Deemed by many as the mandate on leadership and change, John P Kotter’s ideas, books and company (Kotter International) have assisted people around the world to better lead their organisation in an era of rapid change. His works and research on the steps needed for successful leadership and change have helped renovate various organisations around the world. After serving as a full-time faculty for 20 years at Harvard University, Kotter retired in 2001. In 2008, he co-founded Kotter International, wherein he explored the new rules of leadership and the importance of lifelong learning in a business world that reinvents itself every day.
Kotter, through his work, explains that, change can happen only if the whole company wants it, and it is essential to create a sense of urgency around the need for change, which will help spark initial motivation to kick-start the process of change. He also expounds that managing change is not the only factor that will bring the reformation; it is essential for a leader to take strong visible support from the crucial people in an organisation and lead the change.
The author believes that a manager deals with complexity, whilst a leader deals with change. Hence, to have a successful organisation, a leader needs to have a steer clear vision and set a goal to work towards. As a leader, it is also important to align people with the vision of the company, while conversely motivating and inspiring them. Through his theories, he furthermore clarifies that leaders are not restricted to strategies. In fact, a leader gets involved in the implementation, too. Kotter accentuated, “Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome.”
Kotter’s concepts on leadership have tried to create an eccentric differentiation between leaders and managers. The theories by him demand to create a strong understanding that leaders don’t manage change, they promote it. It is important that there is a vision for change, which is communicated strongly and frequently. He further speculates that many projects fail because victory is declared too early. Real change runs deep. He heightened, “Transformation is a process, not an event.”
Time and again, Kotter’s researches and theories on change and leadership have helped businesses soar to success for over three decades. His signature no-nonsense style writing, conscience and authoritative guides have built a platform for successful transformations in organisations. His works continue to march towards achieving his goal of ‘millions leading, billions benefitting’.