Tempered radicals are those who foster change. They are change agents within an organization, who challenge the dominant culture of their organization. They want to succeed in their organizations yet want to live by their values or identities.

They are vital sources of resistance, alternative ideas, and transformation within their organizations.  Along with being critics of status quo they may also be advocates of it. Hence, their situation is more complex than mere a change agent. But by doing so, they may earn the rewards and resources that come with commitment and complicity, and these become their tools for change.

Characteristic of a tempered radical are:

  • They are not afraid of speaking the truth, in fact they are the one who will raise issues which are suppressed. They can do so because they have the conviction & beliefs that challenges the majority.
  • They inspire change simply by behaving differently, and their small deviant actions challenge norms and set an example that others emulate.
  • They have clear goals, and they are focused toward achieving those set goals. They know clearly what they want to achieve and this belief of theirs gives them strength to push for change.
  • They have strong support networks. TRs working in a team are more prone to bigger change and they have greater legitimacy & power.
  • They are self-learner who learns from their own experience & experiments.

The key strategies adopted by tempered radicals are:

  • Small wins: Small wins are powerful because they are doable. Small wins can both effect change as well as effect attitude that may shift thinking and action toward larger wins in the future. Small steps can make real the possibilities of larger change, can effect a wider vision, and can broaden a base of support to concern a larger numbers of people.
  • Local, spontaneous, authentic action: Sometime just being one’s self pushes a different idea of who we are in this organization and models an alternative way to work. In this case, tempered radical directly express their beliefs, feelings & identities. They are more genuine about themselves, their thought process, and their actions. They do exactly what they believe in and their actions differentiate them from others.
  • Language styles: When changes intervene at a deep level to challenge the assumptions and values of the organization, the use of insider language becomes essential. TRs communicate with others in their own language.
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This gives them power to not only understands other’s ideas, opinions or thought process but it also help them in building a strong bond & understanding. Thus, a TR communicates the importance of change to the insider group and avoids co-option.

  • Affiliation: It’s important to form alliances for information, resourcing, emotional support and empathy. TRs emphasized on building relationship and form alliances for support.

My Position/Opinion:

I believe tempered radicals play an especially important role in any organization. They foster change within the organization with their out of box thinking. They have both critical & creative edge, they create learning, and lay the groundwork for slow but ongoing organizational and social change over the time.

It is because of such people only that organizations can change with changing times. They are the one who take risk if they think something is important. They are the one who often think about how things can be improved. They are ready for change even when things are good and this promotes thinking and innovation, which is most important in any organization.

It is very important for an organization, that its manager should play a role of tempered radical who quietly challenges prevailing wisdom and provokes cultural transformation. They should have firm commitments, but their means should be flexible. They should yearn for rapid change, but trust in patience.

They often work alone yet unite others. Rather than pressing their agendas, they start conversations. And instead of battling powerful foes, they seek powerful friends. The overall effect? Evolutionary—but relentless—change.

The views expressed in the article are that of the author and not of the publisher or its management.

This article has been authored by Shirish Agarwal. He is the Head – Marketing Communication & Brand for Panasonic India.

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