Nothing differentiates leading from managing more than implementing CHANGE.
Perhaps it is because change is often joined at the hip with innovation--launching a new product, creating a new service, or taking a company in a new direction.
Sure, you have to manage each of these processes to see them to completion, but it takes leadership to strike the match and ignite action.
I saw this up close and personal the last 21 days.
Three weeks ago, on January 8, I started a diet. I resisted making the diet a New Year's Resolution because, quite frankly, I wanted to eat the German chocolate cake that my dad has each year on his January 5th birthday. And, if I am being honest, it gave me one more week before depravity.
The plan I just finished was called the Daniel Fast.
If you aren't familiar with the Daniel Fast, the origin actually stems from an ancient Hebrew prophet named Daniel who ate only vegetables and drank only water while being held captive in Babylon.
Daniel was well known for two things:
(1) He experienced crazy visions, and
(2) He was NOT eaten when thrown into a lions' den by an angry king.
After eating like Daniel for just 21 days, I too started seeing visions. Unlike Daniel, however, mine revolved around ice cream.
And I know why the lion's didn't eat Daniel. He had no meat on his bones. Pretty sure the lions came over, gave him a sniff, and walked away thinking he was a stick.
Before I started the Daniel Fast, I was no stick.
I needed a jolt of lightning. A kick start. Something. Anything to change the status quo. And that, more than any other component of change is what a leader does best.
CREATE the CLIMATE for CHANGE
I'm not going to say I had given up on life, but my actions kind of gave that impression.
On January 7, Christy and I were binge watching The Crown on Netflix. She brought a blanket to the couch, I brought Ben and Jerry's ice cream. She wanted one bite, and that's all I gave her. I had the rest . . . in one sitting. I like to binge my TV and my ice cream.
Harvard Business School professor James Kotter carefully researched CHANGE MANAGEMENT a few years back and came up with these 8 steps that help drive change in an organization.
In my humble opinion, the first three steps are THE most important. Without a compelling climate, change never happens.
32 years ago, I was doing this on Friday nights.
That's me in the white.
32 years later I was getting winded jumping out of bed in the morning to turn off the alarm clock. Pitiful.
Before Christmas, Christy introduced me to a new acquaintance and mentioned that I played sports in high school. The look on the lady's face said it all. Pretty sure she tried not to laugh. I knew what she wanted to say . . . "Whadya play? Chess?"
I held back the tears. It was time.
Our brains are wired to assimilate information and box it up into neat, tidy categories so we can get back to watching The Crown on Netflix. Urgency disrupts the status quo, forcing our brains to evaluate and affirm the need for change.
Leaders not only see the urgency, they can explain why it is necessary.
Then, they turn to others for help.
FORM A POWERFUL COALITION
My wife has been having coffee every Monday morning with the same group of ladies for years.
Apparently, this sinister group is responsible for coming up with the idea of the Daniel Fast. The ring leader--a woman I will call Traci to protect her identity--makes Daniel look like a putz.
Traci eats kale, quinoa (pronunciation = "crap"), and brussel sprouts when she cheats.
Christy never makes me eat brussel sprouts. You know why? Because she loves me.
But, Traci whipped the girls into a frenzy after about 3 cups of coffee (black of course). Christy came home with three new ways to cook brussel sprouts. I guess the honeymoon is over. . .
Since all the ladies do the cooking at their respective homes, guess who was impacted by this powerful coalition? (On a side note, the husbands lost the most weight over the 21 day period. And we take it personally when females dismiss our achievements by saying, "It's not fair! Men lose weight so much easier!)
My favorite quote by leadership guru John Maxwell is this:
"Everything rises and falls on leadership."
It has been my experience that this is 100% true. No exceptions.
With the mommas forming the coalition, the urgency was at fever pitch.
CREATE A VISION FOR CHANGE
Great leaders create paint a vision of what is and what could be. Sounds simple, right? Maybe, but take a look at the visual below to see what effective leaders do differently:
Leaders convince through stories, not facts and figures. Or let me say it the way Harvard researcher Nancy Duarte says, "Leaders compel through storytelling." They may use analytics, but they are embedded within the framework of a story.
The mistake I see leaders make most often is that they only focus on the "what could be" part. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the "what is" plays a critical role to see the path forward.
By shifting back and forth between the current and the future, the leader tells the listener, "We must do something to get out of this perpetual cycle! Won't you help me?"
I wasn't crazy about starting the Daniel Fast, but I did sense the URGENCY to do something.
I had a POWERFUL COALITION of friends that helped me along during the process.
And I had a VISION for CHANGE, especially when I asked my mother if she thought I had gained weight and she responded, "Well, maybe in the face a bit." My own mother.
Start with these three actions, and CHANGE will be a piece of cake. Mmmm. . . cake.
Call to Action
Change management with employees goes a whole lot better if they are engaged. Click here to get my simple 4 part checklist to increase employee engagement and solve your people problems.