How Do You Rock The Boat Without Falling Out?
You know your company needs constructive change, but your dilemma is, if you push your agenda too hard, resentment builds against you. If you remain silent, resentment builds inside you.
What’s a manager, a leader, an executive to do?
The answer – become a tempered radical. What the hell is that?
A leader who quietly challenges the status quo of prevailing wisdom and provokes cultural transforMOTION. These radicals bear no banners and sound no trumpets. Their seemingly innocuous changes barely inspire notice. But like steady drops of water, they gradually erode granite; tempered radicals embody contrasts. Their commitments are firm, and their means flexible. They yearn for rapid change, andtrust in patience. They sometimes 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 and relentless change.
Tempered radicals use these tactics:
Disruptive Self-Expression. Demonstrate your values through your language, image, and behaviors. People notice and talk – often becoming brave enough to try the change themselves. The more people talk, the greater the impact. Here’s an example:
A stressed-out manager of a midwestern metal manufacturer began arriving at work earlier so he could leave by 6 pm to be with family. He also refused evening business calls. As his stress eased, his performance improved. Initially skeptical, colleagues soon accommodated, finding more efficient ways of working and achieving a healthier rhythm in their own lives.
Verbal Karate. As in karate – empty handed techniques – a manager redirects negative statements or actions into positive change. Here’s another example:
A West Coast Regional manager noticed the new marketing director’s peers ignored her during meetings. When one of them ripped-off a thought she had already expressed, the manager said, “I’m glad Cliff picked up on Tammy’s concerns. Tammy, did Cliff correctly capture what you were thinking?” No one ignored Tammy again.
Variable-Term Opportunist. Be ready to capitalize on unexpected opportunities for short-term change, as well as orchestrate deliberate, longer term change. Here’s an example:
An SVP joined a company within a eat-your-young culture. To insinuate her collaborative style, she shared power with direct reports, encouraged them to delegate, praised them publicly, and invited them to give high-visibility presentations. Her division gained the reputation as an exceptional training ground for building expertise, autonomy and confidence.
Strategic Alliance Building. Build stronger relationships by finding and working with allies. You enhance your legitimacy and implement change faster and more direct than you could alone. Instead of making enemies, form alliances as they’re often your best source of support and resources. Here’s another example:
A wine salesman in a closed distribution state started a revolution in his bureaucratic company by persuading the opposition to join him. Others derided the training department the salesman formed to boost employee creativity, and an auditor scrutinized the department for unnecessary expense. Rather than getting defensive, he treated the auditor as an equal and sold him on the program’s value. The training spread, inspiring employees and enhancing productivity throughout the company.
What can you do to radically, distrupt change?
How long will you tolerate mediocrity?
Successful change is a deep move that generates transforMOTION and often comes with these three characteristics:
Bottom-up, inclusive to engage everyone
It’s a personal and collective change concurrently
It’s focused on specific, daily behaviors, percpetions and habits