Change and Leadership Tip #1: Your people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.
The man I most admire as a leader was a Major in my unit back when I was quite young. Even nearly 40 years later I can recall the impact of his leadership upon me, my unit and ultimately my own approach to leadership later on in life. I had been part of a pre-exercise deployment group that had come in to prepare a base for large scale military maneuvers. Part of my work involved setting up the live fire range and all the moving targets. Just prior to the arrival of my unit I was informed that I would be kept as part of the crew for running the range and as such would not be joining my unit for the exercise.
I was devastated. Maneuvers were the highlight of what can otherwise be described as a mundane lifestyle for soldiers and I was going to miss it. My unit arrived and I shared the bad news with them and we all commiserated over a beer. Inquiries were made but to no avail.
Then something amazing happened. Late that night at around 2 in the morning I was roused out of my bunk by some of my unit members and our ranking officer, the Major. He said that I was a vital part of his team and he simply could not do the exercise without me so I was in effect being "stolen" back to the unit. The proverbial poop hit the fan the next morning but he would not budge.
Word spread throughout the unit and indeed throughout the entire camp. I would have done anything for that Major and indeed my entire unit was of a similar mind. He didn't have to do that and in fact it definitely put him in a tight spot but it sealed forever in my mind and the minds of my comrades that this was a leader who cared about us. Needless to say we went on to a very successful exercise and were noted for performance and innovation that far exceeded the norm.
You may be a seasoned leader or may just have moved into leadership but in either case there is a lesson to be taken to heart here. Don't worry about whether you know more than your team - you don't. Don't worry about always having the right answers - you won't. Work to make sure that your team knows you care about them and will advocate for them. Look for those opportunities to connect. Remember the person you interact with at work comes to you as full and complete human being with cares and needs that frankly exist far beyond the scope of work and to be totally blunt are more important.
Why is this important? This approach touches on the "desire" part of the ADKAR model of change and leadership (sponsorship). People often will not invest in an innovation or change for a number of reasons but mostly because it impacts on their work and livelihood and these are sensitive areas. Even when the benefits have been explained this will still be a scary proposition for some. This is when you will see the fruit of your investment into your team as people. They may not be sure about what you are asking them to walk through but they know you care and because of that they will do it.
They are your team, your people. Your investment into their lives will produce a many fold return back to you. And who knows, maybe in 30 or 40 years someone will recall a story about the day you stepped up for them and how that changed their life?
I want to share a quick and short insight today around the concept of "intention" and its role in leading change. I use the term loosely because we do a lot of things without intention. We don't intend to breathe we just do it. We don't intend to fall in love. We don't intend to grow old, fight it as we may. There are lots of things we don't intend to do and sometimes that tendency carries over into our business lives as well.
Companies today need to be agile in dealing with competitors and an ever shifting consumer market. Companies grow and swallow up other companies as part of the constant challenge of staying ahead of the pack and delivering what clients want. All of these processes create stresses, even if they are good for a company. Like so many things that we don't "intend" we assume that everyone will simply see it our way and get on board, that the change contemplated is patently obvious to all. There is that old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions but I would suggest that when it comes to managing change the road to hell isn't paved with intention at all.
Prosci as an organization has been about the business of change for some time. Each year they publish extensive studies around the subject of change; what works, what doesn't and how that impacts organizations. (822 change practitioners, project leaders, consultants and executives from 63
countries)Prosci 2015 The statistics around this one area of intention or planning are stark; of the organizations that did not use a change management plan (intention) only 37% experienced good or excellent change effectiveness. Of those companies that did apply even a moderate change management plan 58% achieved good or excellent change effectiveness. That is a difference of 21%!
Change is manageable but like anything else that is worthwhile you need to apply intention and structure to the change you are leading. Don't take it for granted, be intentional about how you are going to structure and drive the change you need.