Today’s leaders believe they must be skilled at driving change, leading change, and managing change. It’s their job. It’s what they are supposed to do. But is it?
Many leaders wear their “change” credentials like a badge of honor. They know how to drive change. What they might be saying is that they know how to force change. Driving, or forcing change may in fact work initially, but if your “followers” aren’t aligned, in sync, or haven’t embraced the change because they can’t quite see or understand it, the change itself won’t last. When you hear leaders describe their company as “always changing”, beware. If something has to constantly change it may just mean that it hasn’t yet found its calling – it’s grasping at straws.
Also think about what image “driving” evokes. If you’re driving something that means you’re behind it. You’re in the back pushing. How can you lead from behind? Leaders should always be in front. Being in front may be symbolic, it may be ceremonial, but no matter it’s leadership.
If I force a change to take place, it’s likely that I’ll have to force another change shortly. However, if I inspire change, if I rally those around me, if I can paint a clear picture on what that change will produce or deliver, then I have a much better chance of getting folks to rally not just around me, or the change, but around both.
If you’re a leader in any size organization consider this…
People don’t want to be led. Human beings simply don’t like being told what to do. No. Going back to the beginning of time our ancestors learned the importance of working together toward a common goal. Whether that goal was to produce fire, transportation, or medicine, people need to understand the goal first, and believe that if they achieve that goal they will benefit and prosper. Imagine if fire produced no heat, and no light. What would the benefit have been to “invent” fire making? There has to be a clear goal with benefits, to serve as the first ingredient to an effective change recipe.
It’s your job as the leader to provide this vision. If you can inspire those around you to see the value in the change you’re suggesting you’re well on your way to building an effective, sustainable, and adaptable workplace. Your team will trust you when they know why you’re asking them to do certain things and to make certain changes. This does not mean you need everyone to vote in your favor. No. This is not about singing Kumbaya and holding hands. Inspiring change is about leadership. It’s about having the courage and conviction in the value of the change you’re asking to be made and those you’re asking to make it with you.