Just recently, I had a conversation with a client about my upcoming keynote for her convention. Her workplace is going through some disturbing change. She wants me to boost morale and inspire her audience to see change as a gift instead of a curse. She also mentioned something to me that is even more disturbing than the change they are facing.
She confidently told me there are many old-timers at the top of her company who insist on doing things the old ways. Simply put, they want better and faster results while consistently using outdated thinking. That’s a red flag. Doing business in the present with the mindset of the past is just ridiculous.
Often, those are the same people who butt heads with the young and innovative minds in the company. The sad truth is, they often have enough clout and power to render their business obsolete.
After I got off the phone, I started thinking about the kinds of leaders that are running her company. I wonder if they would consider stepping aside and hand over the helm of the ship to the bright and sharp minds that can lead them into the future. I guess there’s too much involved for that to happen.
It’s understandable for employees to fight and resist change in the workplace. However, when the leaders who are called upon to lead the company are resisting change, there’s a severe problem at hand. Things may look fine now. But, it won’t be long before the unthinkable happens. The writings are on the wall. Here’s a warning:
Change Now Or Prepare Yourself For The Consequences
Real leaders know their limitations. They have the insights to see what’s coming and how to prepare for it. They know to change course when they are heading in the wrong direction. They are flexible enough to take the right action swiftly in order to change with the change.
Recently, I visited my village in Haiti. I discovered the mindset of the villagers is pretty much the same way since I left some thirty years ago. In reality, there’s no real progress. Things are still the same. Consider this…
No Change. No Improvement. No Progress.
My observation led me to believe the people in my village appear to be content to simply survive. I know many people tend to react to change. But, I’m not even sure they are reacting to change. How do I know? Simple.
They are not aware they are living in a new world that requires new thinking and behaviors. They are not taking the necessary actions to change and improve their conditions.
You cannot progress and improve unless you change old thinking and behaviors with new ones. In fact, your business cannot continue to exist unless you’re consistently changing old practices with new ones.
If you’re a leader and you are content with just surviving change, maybe you’re running your business with the same mindset as of the people in my village. That means you will not be able to survive and thrive this new and rapidly volatile economy.
Again, let me warn you that you are in for a rude awakening.
In Times Of Disturbing Change, Swift And Agile Leaders Rule
Real sustainability in volatile economies belongs to those that are flexible enough to respond quickly to new market demands. For example, if you are running your business with old and obsolete computer equipment and software, you have zero sustainability.
Your days in the business arena are numbered. Why? It’s because new markets conditions demand state of the art and cutting technologies. If your customers are using the latest tools, you have to be on the same page with them. If not, they will go somewhere else.
It’s like driving from Florida to New York on a horse and hoping to catch up with your competition. You might get there. However, your competitions will get there before you. By the time you arrive, you will sure find an empty town with no customers or clients to serve.
5 Strategies To Help You Lead Effective In Times Of Disruptive Change
1. Move From Reacting To Anticipating
True transformation occurs when leaders anticipate and create plans for future growth based on market conditions. You have to anticipate future change, so you are prepared for disruptive change.
You don’t want to be a reactor in today’s marketplace. Come to think of it, leaders are not supposed to react to change. They are supposed to lead change. And it’s obvious that you cannot lead from behind.
2. Question Your Assumptions
It’s easy to assume what you’re doing is the right thing. After all, things are looking good on the surface. Well, how about when the wave of change finally catches up with you? Are you prepared?
My suggestion is to question every systems and practice in your business to discover if you are leading or following. There’s always room for improvement. Right? Never assume things are fine. Ask yourself, “Is there a better way to do this?”
Keep improving. Keep innovating.
3. Coach and Mentor Your Team
Now, it’s not always easy to introduce and implement change during turbulent times. Of course, some employees will fight and resist. However, you have to guide and coach them during times of uncertainty.
You have to inspire new behaviors and attitudes in times of change.
Yes, you can bring in some change management consultants to help with the change process. However, after the consultants leave, you have to continue inspiring your employees so they can respond favorable to the new plan.
You see, it takes people to get your company out of the crisis. And they need nurturing. You cannot and will never be able to do it yourself. It takes a committed and caring team.
4. Listen To Their Needs
Be considerate of your employees’ needs. After all, they are human beings. During the change process, their personal needs will clash with your needs.
You have to be a strong but sensitive leader.
So, how do you communicate that you are sensitive when you are walking around with an ax chopping budgets, laying off people, and demanding more for less?
Be a listener. Yes, it’s that easy.
The more you listen to their concerns and needs, the more they see you as a caring and sensitive leader. I caution, however, not to just listen. But, make sure you…
5. Implement Their Ideas Right Away
Listening will help you uncover unique ideas to improve the change process. The faster you implement great ideas from your team, the more in control they feel. You are in essence telling them that they own the change.
They will feel a sense of contribution. They will feel like the matter. As a result, they will be more than willing to make some adjustments. They will be willing to put their needs on hold to cater to yours.
Slowly, they will get into what William Bridges calls in his book, Managing Transitions, the neutral zone. It’s the phase when your employees begin to accept the reality at hand. They may not be ready to fully embrace the change, but they are accepting it.
In conclusion, you have to lead from the front. That means you need to stay abreast and up to date with changing times. You have to keep making the right adjustments in order to stay relevant and competitive. You have to smooth out the rough edges during turbulent and disturbing change.