Here’s the reality. We have all lived with ourselves for all of our lives. So if we have a change of position or responsibility in our leadership, we feel the same but others see us differently. Once we were ‘peers’, now we are ‘supervising’ and ‘leading’. Our words have different importance, our thoughts spoken become expectations or commands regardless of our intentions. Thinking out loud can become ‘actionable items’, words spoken in jest become ‘the supervisor’s opinion’. All of it is because there has been a change in perspective by others. Thoughtful leaders realize that their words now have more value and they use them wisely.
Ninety-five years is a significant milestone, particularly when it represents a life lived with excellence, purpose and impact. One such individual is Dr. Roger Birkman who will celebrate his ‘95’ tomorrow, February 1, 2014. He is the creator of The Birkman Method which we use extensively in our business helping leaders and teams become self-aware and more productive. What’s amazing about Dr. Birkman is his ongoing desire to keep learning, discovering and the child-like wonderment that he shows when he comes across something new; he is an inspiration to me.
All of this challenges me to ask myself these questions:
Am I growing and learning? | Am I excellent in what I do? | What is my life about? | How am I making an impact on the world around me? | How about you?
A new year, a fresh start, a list of goals maybe? Here’s a thought…….what kind of leader do you want to become this year? Breaking it down into a daily choice and change of behaviour brings about results.
A question I often pose to my clients is “what kind of leader do you want to be in this situation?” This is a powerful intention and reminds us that we determine the kind of person we show up as in various contexts. Leaders can do this in an undisciplined and reactive way or in a thoughtful deliberate way. You can change the environment and the outcomes by intentionally choosing a different persona. Are you seen as a hurried, impatient meeting organizer? Or as a collaborative, thoughtful facilitator? Are you the ‘values’ shaping leader or the ‘just get it done’ boss?
Regularly evaluating and clarifying your intention is a key to creating a culture of effectiveness and engagement.
Funny the thoughts that randomly run through our heads. Recently I was standing at the edge of the ocean near where I live, mesmerized by the constant action and change occurring. I was reminded of the words attributed to Heraclitus, ‘everything changes and nothing remains still’ … and … ‘you cannot step twice into the same stream’.
Change is inevitable, yet is often difficult as it impacts and involves people. There are manuals, seminars and much research about this matter but let me see if I can summarize a couple of key concepts that I have observed.
Involvement: Basically, people embrace change that is done with them more so than what is done to them. People who are included, involved and engaged in change tend to embrace it. People who are ‘victims of another management plan’ tend to resist it, passively or actively. I learned this early from my experience in the non-profit world.
Rationale: Change without compelling purpose is a waste of effort. If leadership cannot justify clearly the need for change it really is an exercise in wasted energy. Will this change make us more effective, efficient, healthy or competitive? If there is no clear rationale for the extensive use of emotional and human capital then maybe the change is about the leader’s need more the than organizational need or fear. Coke found this out with the New Coke that nobody wanted.
Pace: Often those leaders visioning change under-estimate the time, energy and capital required to implement those changes. This can at times make them feel under-appreciated and misunderstood. Vision and implementation are great friends as long as they listen to each other. If they don’t, the resulting frustration decreases organizational capacity and desire for change.
Any leader worth their salt is a change agent.
Asking the following questions can be catalysts for effective leadership during change.
- Who needs to be involved in this process?
- What is the benefit or need for this change?
- What is in place to make sure that we keep well connected to the implementers of this change?