“Never has the discipline of leading change been more relevant, visible, and widespread. The advice in this book will guide you to successfully lead any type of significant change effort. Keep in mind that — while I analyze the challenges, successes, and failures of change leadership related to the pandemic — my goal is to offer insights and proven strategies for you as a business leader so you can successfully implement dramatic change in your organization,” writes business leader and author Jeff Skipper in his new book – Dancing with Disruption: Leading Dramatic Change During Global Transformation. The quote is a good indicator of Skipper’s overall tonality – which is warm, and paternal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: https://www.jeffskipperconsulting.com/offerings/developing-strategy/

It helps that in terms of communication, he’s also refreshingly concise. The book doesn’t feel like some sort of roundabout, or narratively unfocused work dangling between self-promotion, and wise, work-experienced tips. It’s broken down into different ‘Strategies’ that Skipper swears by, but don’t just take his word for it. He provides detailed examples and statistics, in a manner never feeling overwhelming or making things feel more complex than they need to be in terms of presentation.

“Clarity on the goal eliminates confusion, sets guidelines for tactics, and avoids wasted time and effort,” Skipper writes. “But we can’t pursue just any direction. The end goal needs to make sense and appeal to the people you are leading. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, stakes were never higher. The goal for change had to inspire the entire world.”

Part of how Skipper applies this to business leadership is advocating for a humanistic balance of community values, and the cold pragmatism defining terms like ‘Fast Pace of the Rat Race.’ Skipper breaks things down in a manner that is compassionate and concise, and rather than circling back to pragmatics or statistics looks to personal integrity and values. It’s something noteworthy about postmodernist leadership, and some authors endorsing this blurring of personal and professional convictions have communicated it better than others. Skipper is in the former camp, making things feel manageable and tolerable provided there is careful, steady implementation of what he advocates for. He also notes that there will be no strengths without struggles, and isn’t afraid of presenting that dent in cold pragmatism honestly.

“We can’t ignore the fact that nothing great or noble is accomplished without giving up something. Pursuing a goal means not pursuing something else. Sacrifice is inherent. It’s the nature of change, and people recognize costs right away,” he states. “…As leaders, we must be sensitive to the negative side of change and call it out early and often, both to prepare people for it and to acknowledge the pain. Help people shoulder the pain, if possible. At minimum, demonstrate empathy.”

That’s a far cry from the cold, mercurial world reflected in eighties films a la Working Girl or Network. Move over the sense of being Machiavellian in an increasingly digitized, and mandatorily democratized workspace. Frankly, to be a good businessman – Skipper more or less shows you need to have these values at the forefront of your aspirations, along with everything else…

Garth Thomas