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You Had One Job!

We see counless failed change processes, programs and initiatives along the sidewalks of businesses across the globe. The one element almost every consultant, expert and guru avoids for the reason why 70% of these programs fails – EGO. Too many, want the mantle of ‘I changed ABC Company’ and ‘I was the reason why it worked.’ Frankly, it’s the single biggest factor of failed leadership. It’s not about you and it never was – let it go. That’s how you screw up a change initiative. Sure, that’s a simplistic viewpoint, but sadly it’s also incredibly accurate. I’ve spent more time helping leaders get out of their own self-serving way, establish their self-awareness baseline and build their organization from that frame.

We know how change tends to succeed – a groundswell of support lead to more and more people going ‘all-in’ and moving their bad behaviors to good habits, fluid communication of standards and expectations all while leading with empathy and perspective. We know how it can fail and fail miserably. We know how to check the archetypes of culture as a starting point for change. Do we know how we to engage people in a way that is sustainable – the crucial condition for successful change? A powerful principle in contemporary organizational change approaches is:

People Support What They Help Create.

Engaging people means enthusiastically tapping into their ideas and energy. It involves utilizing their potential and edifying them throughout the process. Engaged people have in-depth, detailed and sometimes historical information crucial to the intended change process. They may have objections that can improve the change plan. They aren’t disagreeing with the process – they need more information to understand what the change is, why it’s important and how it impacts their contribution. They’re not pissed off! They want data!

When problems arise, the new or additional information helps all of us bypass even avoid some problems. They martial their own energy and motivation to change their own behaviors. Such a personal change is another crucial condition for organizational change. Your people are telling you, here’s how I can and will change if you show me how my contribution and my change affects everyone else I’m connected to. It’s not rocket surgery!

Engage People to Create Successful Change

Engaging is essential to move people forward to want to take ownership of their change process and shed the victim mindset. It unleashes positive power and leads to unforeseen, positive outcomes. This is the serendipity of all change efforts large and small. Some of you cringed at the thought of ‘unleashing your people’ – why? Because you’ll lose power? control? Are you scared? If you felt that, then yes your EGO is at work and in need of a gut-check! At some point, you’re going to realize you cannot continue to lead or have managers manage from a broken forty year-old top-down conventional leadership model.

It’s time. Time to let go of quite a bit of what you learned at B-school if that date was in the 80’s and 90’s. I recommend Tom Devane’s book, The Change Handbook, if you’re considering any orgnizational change effort. It describes 60+ methods based on inclusion, which will shape your culture, and using a systematic approach – the organization is a system with typical behaviors and tipping points, as opposed to focusing on solving problems.

“True sustainability requires people at all levels, in all locations, are authorized to own their problems and solutions.” – Tom Devane

Four Strategies to Organizational Change

We recognize four ways change leaders and consultants deploy. The first two are the typical, tired broken model from some conventional leaders and organizations. The second two require wisdom and discernment – what we teach Elegant Leaders with Voltageyour revelation determines your resilience:

#1 Tell People What to Change and How.

This is the typical model we see with large and small organizations led by those who only know one way of leadership – the Parent Method – ‘You’ll do it my way, because I said so!’ By the way, when that doesn’t work, move on to #2

#2 Force Them to Change By Punishment and Reward.

We don’t even treat animals this way any more. Carrot and stick, in case you’re not sure the age of this approach, gained popularity in 1916…are you hearing correctly? Over 100 YEARS AGO. Even now, I know there are some who’ll read this and go, ‘…yep, if it aint broke, don’t fix it…’ Please do all of us a favor and stop reading this now. You’re the reason leadership is some cases is meaningless.

The third way requires you to let go of some control and have some faith in your people (that’s trust and respect; generally gained by building a relationship with your people. It works both ways btw). Your faith in them is benefited from their potential of ideas and action. Calm down, you’re not relinquishing control of the change process and no, people will not be runing wild with weird cockamamy ideas. When the shared goals are clear in advance, everyone wins. Continue to Copy, Coach, and Correct. The last two strategies are where people, like me, come alongside you to support and empower your lead.

#3 Seek Counsel Before Any Change and Let People Participate.

We are finding more and more organizations are adopting this strategy, because it’s effective at delivering results and preserving relationships. It’s most effective when you adopt the Small Group model of intimate Change Circles – a small team of trustd coworkers – to work with culture and develop a change plan. This method leverages the internal network of communication and relationships you’re not even aware of, or if you are, you don’t understand its dynamics. The fourth, most effective way to create change is:

#4 Be the Message

Change yourself by removing your own false beliefs, false perceptions and false assumptions. This means changing what you believe, what you say, what you do, and how you respond. Notice I didn’t say, how you react. If you have some ‘growing’ here, then we back up and change that action to a much more healthier dynamic. No one can have successful culture when the climate is toxic. And reacting versus responding is toxic.

Personal Change in small teams allows the informal network to be leveraged. First, be the change you want to see on your team. Role model and embody the new behaviors and commit to Leading with Courage. Our small groups or Change Circles enhance personal change within a small team. If everyone practices the new behaviors, it’ll be easier to replicate them and to support each other. Your ‘new’ will become ‘normal’ thanks to culture’s copycat effect.

At first, if a behavior doesn’t fit the current culture people will look confused. They’ll have to adjust their habitual response to you – but they will be reminded of the new behaviors that were agreed upon in the Change Circle. Next time, they may display this behavior, too. Slowly, but surely, lasting change will be on its way.

I’ll be  sharing what an inclusive change process looks like next. If you want to apply my Small Group approach based on culture, engagement, and positive leadership, then invite us to share this practice in a 2- or 3-day workshop as part of our 90-day Quick Start program. Why not join us? Check out our Culture Whisperer Leadership workshop. The fast way to learn more is to read my the 7-Steps to Become an Elegant Leader with Voltage. If you’d rather bounce some ideas off each other, or maybe you’d like a sounding board, then go here to schedule time to chat or email me here.

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