Change is uncomfortable.
Some people like this feeling while most would prefer to keep doing things the way they always have done.
We need to find ways to become comfortable, with the discomfort of change.
In my latest book, Change Up, I lay out the Five Keys for Leading Change to give
leaders a simple diagnostic tool to assess individual and group readiness for
implementing the change.
Be Accountable. When you accept accountability for a change, you chart a course and
model new behaviors. You communicate, coach, and provide feedback to get people
to work in a new way; and you build accountability throughout the organization,
so that leaders and employees are responsible for results.
& Alignment. Because of different perspectives,
leadership teams can struggle to gain consensus about what to do and how to
implement a change effort. With agreement, the leadership team has a shared
view of the future. Agreement is about “what” you want to do and “why” it is
An agreement isn’t sufficient by itself. For instance, I can agree that changes are necessary but may have no interest in changing my behavior. Alignment helps people to define “how” the changes will be carried out through individual actions. When people are left to figure it out for themselves, implementation can be sporadic and disjointed, potentially adding costs to the initiative and sometimes even leading to failure to meet the desired results. Therefore, it’s essential to gain alignment for how the changes will be carried out.
Build Acceptance. During times of change, people can become paralyzed or resistant to the very changes that can help both them and the business thrive. People process changes differently—mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Too often, I see leaders announce a change and
expect that everyone will get onboard. One communication is usually not enough.
You can help by sharing what’s going to happen and why it’s important to act
now. Provide a safe place for people to talk about their concerns as well as
discuss how they can engage in new actions without feeling vulnerable. When people
are given the opportunity to understand and process the information, they can
determine how to take steps to participate in the effort.
Take Positi Action. New behaviors often feel awkward. Competing priorities can get in the way. You can help people take the right actions by focusing them on the right priorities and reinforcing new behaviors. This requires you to understand what people need to start doing differently and what they no longer need to do. This may require new approaches to getting the work done.
Accelerate the Change Process. If you want to get results and fast, then pay attention to your most valuable asset – people. People drive change. When you actively engage with people, they can accelerate results through consistent actions. Look for and remove obstacles that can impede progress and provide support and feedback as people work in a new way.
The Five Keys help you assess whether you are building engagement, accountability, and productivity for the change effort. The Keys will serve as a quick reference, a leadership lens, for ensuring that your people will be ready, willing, and able to execute the change. Use these keys throughout the implementation of an initiative, to help you understand what’s working—and what’s off track
More tips and techniques to successfully lead change can be found in my latest book; Change Up: How Top Executives Lead Change and Deliver Results available at Amazon.com! Or check out my blog posts for additional leadership strategies at www.hilarypotts.com.
To bringing your best to leading in these
It’s no surprise that people are the critical
asset in successfully leading change. Leaders who know how to navigate and lead
change with and through others have a competitive advantage that enables them
to reap the rewards of increased revenue and profits. Unfortunately, most
leaders, while they may be constantly initiating change, admit they are neither
very good at it nor comfortable with leading it. They, and you, may benefit
from knowing the hard truths about leading change, including:
- Change starts with leadership. Leaders talk
about what others need to do to implement the change but don’t always realize that
change starts with themselves. Additionally, leaders are not always comfortable
with change. Change initiatives succeed when leaders accept the change, are
actively involved in it, and are accountable for the results.
- Change is disruptive and messy. People can get
distracted and resist the change. Leaders can help their people stay away from
gossiping, so they can focus instead on what matters to drive positive
- A company’s people and culture influence the outcomes. The business content can consume leaders’ time, so the people aspects
get shortchanged. Strategic changes succeed or fail based on the culture and
the people. Simply put, what people do and say will impact the business
results. Therefore, leading change requires using both business and people
skills to gain the benefits of the change.
- People want the benefits of change, but do not want to actually be
changed. Change requires getting people ready,
willing, and able to “want” to make the change. This may mean that they must
learn new behaviors. Therefore, if you want a different outcome, you must
change what you and your people do. Leaders can accelerate the change process
by helping people see “what’s in it for them” through the right positive
- Change efforts fail in the handoffs. Many
change efforts fail when the handoff from the project team to the leadership
team isn’t clear, or when leaders fail to accept full accountability for
executing the plans.
Maybe it’s time to change up your approach to leading change. For practical, proven strategies to lead your change effort, check out my new book; Change Up: How Top Executives Lead Change and Deliver Results, available at Amazon.com!
The speed of change in this 24/7 society can be overwhelming and confusing. It doesn’t have to be.
Jasbindar Singh and I met to discuss why leading change is so difficult, what many executives miss, and how to take accountability for your actions. If you don’t want to be stuck in the middle and wish to be on top of your next change, take a read of the discussion Jasbindar and I had about leading change.
Leadership: The Truth about Change
Jasbindar Singh is a psychologist and blogger who helps her clients step up and out to take their next steps – however big or small! www.jasbindarsingh.com
Time gets away from us. The calendar is overflowing with meetings. How can we find time for others when we struggle to find a moment for ourselves? We fear that if we get connected, we will get pulled into too many issues.
We convince ourselves that the townhalls, meetings, and email blasts are enough to convey our messages. But we’re not sure that the messages are appropriately cascaded, and that people are actively executing on the key initiatives.
When leaders are not available, it is easy to become isolated and distanced from the real issues. Without those valuable conversations, we do not have the data to make accurate decisions and without out input, people are left to figure it out for themselves. Often this is where project implementation goes off track.
Here are ways to get connected using what I call the Visibility Matrix:
Free Up Time – Make effective use of your time by finding five, ten or even 15-minutes in your day. Shorten appointments, focus conversations to one topic, arrive at meetings early and end meetings early with the focus on using these precious minutes to increase your face time with others.
If you are like me and tend to sit at my desk all day, ask a colleague to take a 10-minute walking break which is a terrific way to stretch your legs and walk and talk with a colleague.
Instead of bolting out the door at the end of the day with cellphone plugged into your ear, bock the last 10-15 minutes of the day as personal wrap-up time. Reflect on the day and lay out the next. Then make a smooth transition from the workday into your evening activities.
Pay attention to the transitions in your day – It’s easy to blow by the transitions from meeting to meeting, and one activity to another until it all feels like the day is one big blur. Use the time between activities to regroup, and reconnect. Stop by a colleague’s desk on the way to or from the restroom, or getting a glass of water.
You can access more tips and ideas in the attached YouTube segment.
By being visible and connected with others, you get a two-way dialogue going. You find out what’s going on. You can ask questions, make comments, remove obstacles, provide insights and coaching, and give feedback to others. Through your visibility you show the work is valued, it’s important, and you can be involved in the right way to help.
Hilary Potts is a leadership strategist who advises senior leaders to navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. She is the author of leadership books; The Executive Transition Playbook and The Truth About Change, available on Amazon.com. Additional leadership tips, tools, blogs, podcasts, and videos are available on www.hapgrp.com.
As the year wears on, my clients and colleagues tell me how busy and consumed they are with work. Healthy New Year’s Resolutions were abandoned ages ago, replaced with a pile of work and no end in sight.
Healthy habits, what healthy habits? It’s survival mode. The days are long. Lunch is at the desk or gobbled down during one of the endless meetings. Before they know it, the day is gone.
Here’s a hint: if we don’t make time to take care of ourselves, no one else will. It doesn’t need to take hours, just a few minutes throughout the day. The key is to replenish, refresh, and reinvigorate the body, mind, and spirit to show up as our best selves.
Here are practices to help us stay physically, mentally, and emotionally ready for whatever comes our way.
Stay Active through Exercise and Movement – Long hours of sitting can take its toll on our body. Taking frequent stretch breaks brings the body back into balance and alignment. Use the stairs whenever possible. Find a colleague and take a fifteen-minute walk break at lunchtime to jumpstart the afternoon. Ready for a change? Consider trying yoga or qi gong class.
Get an Early Start to the Day – Spend the first hour of the day on you. Robin Sharma, a personal leadership expert, calls it his 5 A.M. Club. Use the early morning hour for reflection, learning, exercise and planning. Using the beginning of the day on ourselves can prepare us for the events ahead. Can’t find the full hour? Start with fifteen minutes and begin to see a difference.
Eat Healthy Foods – We are what we eat. Skip the temptations of the bagel or danish and opt for a yogurt or piece of fruit. Carry healthy snacks, such as unsalted nuts or an apple to refuel. And, find the time to focus on eating versus multitasking over lunch.
Stay Hydrated –When our body is dehydrated it works less efficiently. Staying hydrated allows the body to flush out toxins. Drinking plenty of water replenishes our body for better movement, and improved thinking.
Get 7-9 Hours of Sleep – The body needs sleep to digest the food and thoughts that we ingest during the day. During times of change, there is a lot on our minds which can inhibit a good night’s sleep. Make a conscious effort to start to wind down an hour before bed and turn off electronic devices. Consider journaling, reading something inspirational, or meditating to prepare for a restful sleep.
Balance Through Breathing – There is much buzz about acting mindfully. It starts with our personal awareness. Noticing how we breathe is a simple place to start. How we breathe is an indicator of our emotions, energy level, and attitude. Under stress, our breathing patterns can become shallow and tight. Slow, deep abdominal breathing can sooth and calm the nervous system. When we lengthen the inhalation and exhalation, we can start to relax and release the tension that builds up under stress. Many find meditation and other mindfulness techniques helpful to stay focused and balanced. Create short breathing breaks throughout the day to stay focused and clear.
Find Happiness and Gratitude – We’re programmed to seek out what’s wrong and find solutions. Consider focusing on the positives and building onto what’s already working. Instead of gossiping or complaining find a reason to be grateful and let others know what they are doing right.
Collect Your Thoughts – Many US Presidents were prolific writers, capturing their ideas and thoughts in journals. Use a journal to capture ideas, quotes, accomplishments, plans, and dreams. Journals can be a good place to dump worries and develop solutions. Start writing about what’s on your mind and don’t worry if it’s not Pulitzer Prize worthy.
Take an Electronic Break. – Find time to unplug all electronic devices and take a digital detox. Consider unplugging for one day on the weekends.
While these practices are pretty obvious, unless we make a concerted effort to schedule time in our busy day before we know it, we’re tired and out of gas.
Incorporate a few of these practices into your daily routine and start to notice the difference.
What healthy practices help you to be at your best?
We’ve all had those situations that take us out of our comfort zone. Our heart starts to beat a bit faster. Our breathing gets shallow, and we may even begin to sweat.
Those circumstances where deep inside something is telling us to be alert. We sense we aren’t confident.
Gaining confidence is something that can be learned and cultivated. Confidence comes from a feeling of well-being and an acceptance of who we are and in our ability right now. As we continue to develop and grow, it’s natural for our confidence to ebb and flow.
Here are practical ways to build confidence:
See Challenges as Opportunities – It’s normal to be apprehensive in new situations. When the glass seems half full, solutions are limited. Acknowledge the change. Try to reframe the situation as an opportunity to learn and contribute differently.
Create a Sense of Purpose – Identify the reason for taking on the challenge in the first place. Knowing what we want to accomplish and why it’s important can inspire us to move forward.
Gain Knowledge and Understanding – Take an inventory of the facts to gain knowledge of the circumstance. What’s known and what’s unclear? Identify personal strengths and potential areas of vulnerabilities. Knowing our capabilities helps determine the resources and support needed to bring our best.
Plan and Prepare –One of my favorite quotes is “If you fail to plan, you plan for failure.” A plan provides an anchor and blueprint from which to pivot. As new information presents itself, we can make mid-course corrections.
Think and Act Positively – When we question our abilities there is an inclination for negative thoughts. Shifting the internal talk can be hard for many people.
When presented with challenges, a confident leader coaches themselves and provides balanced feedback. From positive thoughts come positive actions. How we breathe and carry ourselves can shift our emotions, our internal talk, and our actions.
Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy has shown posture has a direct correlation with building confidence. Amy’s research suggests assuming a power pose and “faking it until you become it” to get started. Thinking, acting and dressing the part can have a positive effect in building confidence.
Take Action – Often I see people paralyzed, waiting to take big steps when a few smaller steps could lead to more actions. Smaller actions are easy to get started and give an early indication that we are on or off track.
As a child, my mom would say, “if at first, you don’t succeed, try again.” It means shedding the need for perfection and doing something. Expect to make a few mistakes. The actions will provide feedback and insights from which to make an adjustment.
Don’t let the fear of failure paralyze or step in the way. Get prepared to “Fall down seven times, and get up eight.”
Seek input and feedback – Chances are others have tread this path before. Seek insights from others. People will be flattered to be asked. Listen to all the ideas to make an informed decision.
Celebrate Early and Often – Whenever, I suggest people celebrate early successes, I hear all kinds of reasons why to wait. Build confidence by celebrating the small actions along the way. With each success come others. Want to build confidence? Stop waiting for the end result and start celebrating smaller milestones.
The next time you start to doubt your abilities, use these points as a guide to step into the role with confidence.
Are you entering a new role and want to boost your confidence?
Lead the change into a new assignment using tips and tools from The Executive Transition Playbook: Strategies for Starting Strong. Staying Focused, and Succeeding in Your New Leadership Role. Available on Amazon.
As a leadership strategist, I help senior leaders navigate today’s intensively competitive business world with success. Learn more about me at www.hapgrp.com.