There is an easier way to lead change. I’ve spent the past twenty years helping leaders with change implementation, whether at the middle management or CEO level. Whatever level I happen to be dealing with, I am always surprised by the way they define change. It seems that change begins as a living, breathing entity, but by the time of implementation it has been beaten into a dry task list devoid of any life at all.
I remember one company I worked with that had the most beautiful PowerPoint deck tied to their change effort. Every single task, down to who would buy the software to make the beautiful charts, was on the change project plan. What I never found in that forty-five page document was how leadership was actually going to lead and inspire the people involved.
Great leaders believe in people and know how to get them to work together, especially during times of change. As the economy has gotten more difficult, I’m actually noticing leaders going back to command and control. They’re less trusting of the opinions of those who work for them, and are barking orders saying “if you don’t like this environment, there are a lot of people out there who need jobs.”
If you want an easier way to lead change, try this:
1. Focus less on the tasks and more on the people involved. Ask yourself if you’re doing more commanding than encouraging.
2. Back up and look at the big picture. Ask – who are your best people? Are they being tapped and challenged? Are they motivated?
3. Inspire people by acknowledging them. Organizations are composed of living, breathing parts. You can organize and set up tasks all day long, but it’s the human spirit that will either make those tasks succeed or fail miserably.
This is a difficult time, but if you don’t acknowledge the souls in your organization you’re going to end up on the sidelines, shaking your head, wondering why your incredibly talented team isn’t playing anywhere close to their capacity. I think Boris Pasternak said it best in “After the Storm”:
It is not revolutions and upheavals
That clear the road to new and better days,
But revelations, lavishness and torments
Of someone’s soul, inspired and ablaze.
Let your people know that they being their best is more important to you than anything else they might do, and they’ll accept change. Be their leader, not their task-master. Coach Norman Dale expressed this beautifully in the movie Hoosiers:[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDJS9rFGCHE[/youtube]