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Managewhich Tip: Getting in Front of Change Through Leadership

“The enemy to real change is lip service” ~Peter Block

This is never more true than in a low trust organization.  How many times have you been in meetings where heads nod in agreement only to have nothing done?  It’s insidious because we think the group is on board when they aren’t.

We can work with opposition and disagreement.  Honesty lets us know where we stand and know where we may need to negotiate, whereas, we often miss lip service.

In a non-resilient, less-than-adaptable, entrenched-in-the-same-old-same-old culture, people see change as a larger threat than in those organization that are more nimble, and therefore, people resist as though there is a physical threat.  And, these folks have learned that if they just nod their heads and not do anything, the executives will eventually get tired of pushing the boulder up the hill by themselves and quit.

The best thing a leader can do in periods of rapid change is to get out in front and plan it, rather than manage it at the end.   By the way, I don’t like the term “Change Management” because by the time we get to the management piece, we’re behind it instead of in front of it.  I think the more appropriate term is “Change Leadership” because we’re talking about creating a sustainable future.  Make sense?

So, the first thing to do is figure out… before the change takes place…. during the proposal stage… is who the constituencies are, how they benefit and how they lose.  Remember to look at social threats as well as changes to process.

Then, decide how you’re going to measure the change.  What does success look like, not just at the end, but during the process?

And, how are you going to reward the small steps in between?  People change through positive feedback, and you want to reward people for “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” (~Susan Jeffers) because that’s the only way they will do it again for the next steps.   For the brain, change is a risk, which means that you’re overriding the fear response when going out on a limb.

Be aware of the lip service.  One of the best ways to see whether you have real agreement and accountability early is to ask for specific action and commitment.  Oftentimes, we get busy and expect people to connect the dots for themselves.  They’re busy, too, and if you’re proposing something that isn’t important to them, they’re not likely to put that much brain power into figuring out what you want.  So, be specific, reward when they deliver, and ask questions when they don’t.

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann Jacobs

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