As the CEO or Top Executive Driving Massive Change Initiatives You Must Factor in Your Leadership Team’s Capability to Support Your Initiative.
Frustrated with your Leadership team’s ability to drive breakthrough change? How about their ability to drive change in general? It’s not really about ability in so much as it is about KNOWLEDGE, awareness, and resilience. Recently I was talking with a senior executive who was tasked with merging two companies together. He was sharing his frustrations with the extensive chaos and dysfunction in the newly merged company a full year after the merge. As our conversation continued, it became evident that there was little focus on the two different cultures and assessing the leadership team’s ability to effectively drive change as they developed and executed the strategy to merge the companies. This oversight is more common than you may thing. Here is a typical instance where ignoring the company culture and not defining a leadership development plan leads to sub optimal results. Now, we can dive deep into the issues of merging two company cultures, but today we are focused on the key traits you need to develop within your leadership to support your major change initiatives in order to ensure high levels of success.
Your leadership’s capability to effectively and efficiently lead your organization through change means the difference between success and failure. Based on 25 years of driving transformational change, I have found breakthrough leadership capability can be boiled down into two types of leaders: Leaders that are good at driving both cultural and leadership breakthrough change and those that are good at maintaining the system after the major changes have occurred. The first step is to understand where your leaders are today with respect to the change leadership strengths and then secondly, determine the development necessary to equip them to be successful in driving your change initiative.
The top 5 attributes that characterize leaders that are great at both cultural and leadership breakthrough change are inspiring a shared vision, conscious leadership, principle-based thinking, respect for people, and resilience. While there are many more additional supporting attributes, these 5 top the list. As we walk through each of these attributes you will see a good amount of interconnection highlighting the need for all 5 to be present for your change initiative to be successful.
Inspiring a Shared Vision
Your vision statement for your transformation needs to be inspirational at every level of the organization and integrated into daily discussions and the “way you do business”. A great vision needs to answer the questions, “If everything happened perfectly for us, what do we look like in 5-10 years?” and “What will our stakeholders (customers, shareholders, community, suppliers, employees, etc.) think of us in 5-10 years?”
The systems and processes your leaders implement as part of the change need to embody this vision and reference it regularly, either directly or indirectly. When your employees are aligning their activity to support your vision you will accelerate your transformation timeline. The key to creating this environment is employee engagement. Your employees need to feel that they are a part of something bigger.
We have found that your frontline leaders have the highest level of influence to drive employee engagement. An example of a system that will help your frontline leaders is our Empowerment Conversation, which is a 9-minute daily process that is proven to create a step change in employee engagement.
As a leader at the Wiremold Company (Wiremold is internationally renowned as a pioneer in the successful execution of Lean business practices and recipient of the prestigious Shingo Prize for Manufacturing Excellence in 1999.) during the transformation we were regularly looking at how our daily activities were moving the company closer to the vision of becoming one of the top 10 time based suppliers in the world. These regular conversations cascaded through the entire company, which was one of the key components that contributed to the company’s 16.9% CAGR improvement of our Operating Income over the first 10 years of our transformation. (These improvements were recounted in the award winning books “Gemba Kaizen”, “Lean Thinking”, and the most recent “The Lean Turnaround”.) Developing your leaders with the ability to engage your entire workforce to drive your transformation vision will pay dividends.
Getting the leadership right is critical when driving step change results in your company! We have found Conscious Leadership is the best leadership approach to reduce your stress, engage your team, and achieve rock star results. Based on our 25+ years of experience, we have refined our leadership model called Conscious Leadership.
Our Conscious Leadership model is congruent with our belief that leaders, to be truly effective, must learn to move beyond a reliance on their mind’s brain power and learn to tap into mind, body, and spirit together. Conscious leaders use their full mind; the awake, conscious mind AND the unconscious or subconscious mind. They use their body as they manage stress and energy levels. They also use their spirit, which includes their intuition (or inner knowing) AND their “high self” (an almost heavenly guidance).
There are 8 elements of conscious leadership where 4 of them focus on conscious of self and 4 focus on conscious of others. You can grab a detailed description of our Conscious Leadership model here as well as a brief assessment to share with your team.
When your leaders possess principle-based thinking they have a clear vision of the behavior and supporting process changes they want to achieve, while having flexibility in their approach to meet the different environments they encounter within different parts of your company. This flexibility in thinking while remaining true to the principles creates a higher engaged workforce and develops the momentum to continue the journey beyond the initial step-change.
Respect for people
Expect that your employees will go through an emotional curve as your change initiative rolls out. When your leaders have a high respect for their people they will more successfully help each person navigate that emotional curve quicker which will help elevate the active participation within the workforce. There are a couple ways to determine the level of respect each of your leaders has for their team.
The first step is to personally observe them in action, paying particular attention to body language. Watch what is not said more than the words that come out of each person’s mouth. The second way to determine the level of respect each of your leaders has for their team is to ask the teams or engage your HR Group to ask each team to get a pulse for the level of respect your leaders have.
Resilience is the ability to successfully absorb change. People have different degrees of resilience, depending on orientations to change. With every change initiative you can expect the things will not go exactly as planned. Resilience is a key attribute that will help keep the team on the course through the obstacles and potholes that will inevitable occur. When your leaders have a high degree of resilience they are positive, focused on achieving the vision, flexible as they navigate the change, and proactive on addressing the issues that arise.
Once you determine where each of your leaders are within the change leadership attributes you can determine the development strategy for each based on their involvement in driving your vision. Keep in mind that change leaders usually get bored after the majority of transformational challenges are completed and tend to look for their next challenge either within your company or elsewhere. So, factor this into your thinking to retain this talent for the long term.
Also, the leaders that may not be strong with driving change but are great once the change is made (our second type of leader) are still valuable to the organization and could step in to the high performance environment and maintain the system as designed, continuing to make incremental improvements over time. Both roles are important in your company and you can drive significant improvement when you put the right leader in the right spots during your journey to double your profits.
About the Author: David Tweedt
David Tweedt is President of Win Enterprises, LLC. He helps visionary business leaders create a sustainable performance focused organization focused on profit growth. Win’s proven strategy and execution process integrates the inner game (Science of Success) with cutting edge business transformation strategies with a goal of doubling your profits.
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