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
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.
Every time I read one of John O’Donohue’s poems, I get inspired. His words of wisdom energize and urge me on to bring more of myself to the many roles in my life.
It’s too easy to jump in and charge ahead and forget to stop and smell the roses. This may sound so trite. Yet, a slight pause and quiet space can provide time for reflection to kindle the energy to move ahead.
So find a quiet moment between celebrating a new position and getting started anew. Honor the transition and determine the best path forward. Use this time as an opportunity to determine how you bring your best self to this role. I find John O’Donohue’s words of wisdom to be useful whether this is a new job, a different assignment or a change in role. It’s a chance to take a fresh approach.
May this poem give you the pause, reflection and inspiration to be open to the possibilities.
May your new work excite your heart,
Kindle in your mind a creativity
To journey beyond the old limits
Of all that has become wearisome.
May this work challenge you toward
New frontiers that will emerge
As you begin to approach them,
Calling forth from you the full force
And depth of your undiscovered gifts.
May the work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible.
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.
Remember to be kind
To those who work for you,
Endeavor to remain aware
Of the quiet world
That lives behind each face.
Be fair in your expectations,
Compassionate in your criticism.
May you have the grace of encouragement
To awaken the gift in the other’s heart,
Building in them the confidence
To follow the call of the gift.
May you come to know that work
Which emerges from the mind of love
Will you have beauty and form.
May this new work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.
May your work assume
A proper space in your life;
Instead of owning or using you.
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you every day further
Into the wonder of your heart.
Poem from “To Bless the Space Between Us”
It’s the cultural and emotional intelligence that can blindside leaders entering new roles. This is what happened to George who found himself out of a job after the first 15-months.
George is a hard charging, passionate, results-focused executive. He’d worked at many prestigious companies significantly growing their business portfolios.
When Nancy, a long-time friend, and business colleague, asked him to join the organization as the chief operating officer, George jumped at the opportunity.
George’s marching orders were to turn around the recent dip in sales. He came in and quickly reorganized the sales force to operate more like one of their competitors. The implementation hadn’t gone smoothly. George had misread the vast differences in the two company’s cultures.
There had been some tough conversations and he’d rubbed some people the wrong way. At the time he chalked this up to their resistance to change so he kept driving ahead. Isn’t that what the CEO and the board had told him to do?
Had George paid more attention to his assimilation, could he have avoided this situation? What can we learn from this misstep?
Assess the Cultural Fit – Many executives get so excited by the business opportunity; they end up joining an organization that isn’t a cultural fit. Before getting all excited about the offer, take a hard look at the culture of the company. Look beyond the business and delve into the company values and culture. Ask yourself, “Do I see myself working and thriving at this company?”
Set Mutual Expectations – Busy, action-oriented leaders can shortchange these conversations. Work with your boss and set expectations and goals. It pays to discuss your 90-day transition plan before you accept the role. Even if there is a prior working relationship, don’t assume you are in lock step in this new situation. Schedule regular check-ins to review the business and how the assimilation is progressing.
Gain Knowledge About the Business – Don’t miss this opportunity to get a fresh look at the business. This includes the cultural, political, and emotional aspects of the business. Assess all the business levers to understand how the entire business ecosystem works. Stay objective and avoid making hasty assumptions based on your own preconceived notions.
Foster Key Relationships – Knowing the people and how they work makes it much easier to make business changes. Take the time to build meaningful relationships both inside and outside the organization. Understand the needs of others and treat them with respect. By building credibility, trust, and respect with colleagues, it will be easier to navigate through challenging situations.
Gel with the Team – High performing teams are critical to an organization’s success. The entry of a new leader changes the dynamics of a team. Accelerate the assimilation by facilitating open dialogue using a New Leader Assimilation Exercise. Discuss goals, objectives, purpose and preferences to build mutual understanding. In a short time, the leader and the team can get to know one another.
Enhance Your Leadership – It can be a mistake for leaders to assume they can lead the same way they did in the last role. What may be a “normal” way of speaking in one organization may be arrogant in another. Leader transitions are a great time to make enhancements and establish new leadership behaviors.
Prepare to Lead Change – Both the timing and approach are critical to making strategic changes. Start by understanding the organization’s culture and history with implementing change. Assess the implications and risks associated with making the change. And clearly get others agreement, alignment, and commitment before charging ahead.
Leaders can avoid career missteps by managing how they assimilate in the new organization.
Please share your comments on the best practices you use assimilating into a new role.