Books: “Leading Change” by John P. Kotter – Chapter 4


Leading Change by Larry Kotter

Chapter 4, “Creating the Guiding Coalition”

Because major change is so difficult to accomplish, a powerful force is required to sustain the process.  No one individual, even a monarch-like CEO, is ever able to develop the right vision, communicate it to large numbers of people, eliminate all the key obstacles, generate short-term wins, lead and manage dozens of change projects, and anchor new approaches deep in the organization’s culture (51-52).

Only teams with the right composition and sufficient trust among members can be highly effective under these new circumstances (55).

A guiding coalition that operates as an effective team can process more information, more quickly.  It can also speed the implementation of new approaches because powerful people are truly informed and committed to key decisions (55-56).

Putting Together the Guiding Coalition (57)

Four key characteristics seem to be essential to effective guiding coalitions.  They are:

  1. Position power.
  2. Expertise.
  3. Credibility.
  4. Leadership.

A managerial mindset will develop plans, not vision’; it will vastly undercommunicate the need for and direction of change; and it will control rather than empower people (58). 

A guiding coalition made up only of managers—even superb managers who are wonderful people—will cause major change efforts to fail (59).

Two types of individuals should be avoided at all costs when putting together a guiding coalition.  The first have egos that fill up a room, leaving no space for anybody else.  The second are what I call snakes, people who create enough mistrust t kill teamwork (59).

Personnel problems that can be ignored during easy times can cause serious trouble in a tougher, faster-moving, globalizing economy (51). 

One of the main reasons people are not committed to overall excellence is that they don’t really trust other departments, divisions, or even fellow executives (65).