Ships have anchors to hold it in place. Is the anchor useful? Absolutely. Without the anchor, the ship drifts aimlessly. But what happens when the anchored ship is caught in a sudden storm? If the ship’s crew doesn’t let the anchor go, the ship will be swamped by waves. The crew cuts their ties to the anchor to ride out the storm in the sea. “They needed to be free from what was normally a useful source of stability. Their lives depended on it.” So, the anchor can be an ASSET and a LIABILITY. A paradox!
Individuals and organizations have their respective anchors that serve both as an asset and a liability. As individuals, our systems of beliefs or “ego” are our anchors. For organizations, anchors are imbedded in their culture or “ego.” These anchors are sources of stability in how best to cope in our world.
Quinn says that “individuals and organizations are often confronted by storms” like ships out in sea. What are those storms? For individuals, it may be coping with job loss or changes. For organizations, it be coping with financial difficulties, or customers no longer knocking on the door. Quinn says these storms are signals of danger, a call for “transformation” or a deep change. Often we resist rather than accept the need for deep change. We live in denial. We refuse to give up control. We strive to “stay in our zone of comfort and control.” We hold onto our anchors which now become liabilities. And, so we begin a slow death.
To accept the need for deep change is a transformation process where we enter a period where ambiguity and the unknown will reign. For leaders, they are entering a stage where they’re leading people without really knowing where they are going.
How do leaders release their anchors? How do leaders enter into deep change? I’ll share that process in my next blog later in February.