It is a truism to say that we live in a changing world, but it is necessary to understand this to recognise that Change is unavoidable. If you aren’t leading it and making it happen, then someone else is ‘doing it to you’!
Systems and businesses are just like people; they grow older and begin to work less well. In the same way you have to invest in keeping your body fit by spending time exercising, you have to invest time and effort in keeping your business fit.
It is like exercise in another way, it is painful, takes up time you would sooner invest elsewhere and generally we would avoid it if we could. However, we also recognise that there are two sorts of pain, the one that we choose as a step to make things better and that we which comes form things breaking down and decaying.
Another thought, no one likes the guy who makes them get up early from a comfy bed and work-out. They tend to turn on them and attack them as the apparent cause of their discomfort. Leading Change is no way to win a popularity contest…
'Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future'
John F. Kennedy
Change is painful. It takes up time, effort and money. It is also unavoidable. As a leader it is your job to decide where to invest time and effort; what to maintain and what to develop. It is also human nature to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. However, as mature humans we can choose to accept less gratification now, in the belief that we will have more tomorrow. Children don’t understand this, and want all their treats NOW! As a leader you have to explain to your staff why they have to invest today (by being less comfortable) in order to benefit tomorrow.
People need to understand ‘What Is in it For Them’, before they are prepared to move towards this risky future. No matter how senior, everyone needs to know why they are being asked to change and how it will benefit them.
The job of a Leader in Change is:-
1. Identify what needs changing
2. Articulate the benefits of the Change (the diminution of threats, the increase of rewards)
3. Allocate appropriate resources
4. Maintain focus, momentum and support
5. Reward success
A true leader is always going to be making some people uncomfortable some of the time, as he/she encourages people to move from their comfort zones. This is how we grow as human beings; this is how we grow our businesses.
We all want people to like us, but sometimes, as a leader, you have to settle for their respect, because the job of a leader is “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted”.
If you are sure that you have properly identified what needs doing, you must move ahead and allocate enough resources to make the change. Then you have to keep articulating your vision and reasons, and if people don’t get it (or forget it,) keep telling them. Find new ways to tell them so they really ‘get it’. Your job is to make sure that you are not only harvesting today, but planting for tomorrow. Most people think no further ahead than the next meal.
“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
Richard can only be described as world class... - Operations Director Asia/Pacific, Diageo
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Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. - Robert F. Kennedy