How Outstanding Leaders Inspire Change


By Cecilia Boggi

Buenos Aires, Argentina



“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” 

– Stephen Hawking

According to PMI® Guide Managing Change in Organizations, “Innovation and a highly dynamic external environment force organizations and practitioners to act more quickly and be more adaptive to handle uncertainty.” [1]

In these times of globalization, great competition, new disruptive technologies and economies in crisis, organizations must adapt more and more rapidly to change, and the concerns of leaders are increasing.

Regarding this concern, I recently read an article about a top Italian executive and his strategy to get the organization he leads to adopt changes.

At the main private university in Rome, Luiss Business School, the CEO of the ENEL Business Group, Francisco Starace, responds to a student who asked him how to make people really adopt changes in the organization. [2]

Starace said that, in order to achieve change, “it is necessary to inspire fear” and, then, he added that it was important to first locate the “ganglia” – or power points into the organization – that are against the plan, and then “hit” them, creating fear and discomfort.

Obviously, many controversies were generated over these sayings of Francesco Starace and all the international press echoed this.

I was very surprised to read that this person believes that to inspire change should inspire fear and the question that arises in me is if this will be the most effective method.

In my opinion, I think that inspiring change through fear, as well as undesirable, will not be sustainable over time. It may, perhaps, get results in the short term. But, I do not imagine that his direct collaborators feel satisfied with this form of leadership to work motivated. At the same time, they will hardly be able to inspire their own personnel to carry out the desired change.

Perhaps, this may be one of the reasons for the failures of the organizational changes. As states Ron Carucci in his article published by Harvard Business Review, “In a survey of nearly 3,000 executives about the success of their enterprise transformation efforts, McKinsey discovered the failure rate to be higher than 60%, while Harvard Business Review conducted a study that suggested more than 70% of transformation efforts fail”.[3] Carucci considers that too many leaders want transformation to happen at unrealistic speeds, with minimal effort, and everywhere but within themselves.


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About the Author

Cecilia Boggi, PMP

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Cecilia Boggi, PMP is founder and Executive Director of activePMO, giving consulting services and training in Project Management and Leadership skills in Argentina and Latin America.

After graduating with a degree in Computer Science Engineering from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, she has managed software development projects and PMO implementation projects for more than 20 years both in the government and private sector. Cecilia has an Executive Master in Business Administration from Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, Spain and also has graduated from an Executive Program in Business Management at Universidad del CEMA. She holds the Project Management Professional (PMP®) credential since 2003, is certified as SDI Facilitator from Personal Strengths©, is a Professional Executive Coach accredited by Association for Coaching, UK, and alumni of the PMI Leadership Institute Master Class 2012. Ms. Boggi is Past President of the PMI Buenos Aires Argentina Chapter, and is a founding member of the PMI Nuevo Cuyo Chapter and PMI Santa Cruz Bolivia Chapter. She has been designated by PMI in the role of Mentor of Region 13, Latin America South, for the years 2014-2016. Cecilia has participated in the development of PMBOK® Guide 5th Edition, leading the Chapter 9, Human Resource Management, content team and she is professor of Project Management and Leadership in some Universities and Institutes in Latin America.

She can be contacted at mailto:[email protected]and http://www.activepmo.com/