Leading Successful Change and Transformation
Behind every successful company, organization, business, is an authentic leader who is creative and innovative, result oriented, inspiring employees to massive action, leads from the front, creating an enabling environment for peak performance. I was recently speaking to leaders in an Oil and Gas Company and I asked the audience to write down the name of the leader they most admired in their organization and the leader they will literally die for. I then asked the audience to shout out the name of the person and 98% of the audience gave the same name. I tried the exercise on another set of audience from the same organization and the same name came up. When I asked what they most admired about this person I got the following response: we trust him, he leads from the front, he inspires action, he is authentic, when things go wrong, he doesn’t play the blame game but supports the team for resolution; he is always available when you need him, he shares the credit for a good job done. On and on they shared the attributes of this person. When leaders lead, the results follow!
Research shows that out of every ten change and transformation project or program, only three are successful registering a 70% failure rate. We now have thousands of books written on how to lead successful change and transformation; many models, frameworks, and methodologies for leading change and transformation; hundreds of change practitioners, change managers and coordinators, consultants, just name it and yet the needle has not significantly shifted in ensuring successful change and transformation. The question is why? As leaders we continue to do things the same way and expect a different results. There is this belief and craze going on that the hiring of a change manager or transformation lead supported by fancy methodologies and lots of communication is the answer to successful change and transformation. A leader was telling me recently with pride how they now have a change manager to lead the charge on change and transformation and how they are now looking forward to a smooth ride in their change efforts. I alerted him that though that is a step in the right direction, it is however not the cure for their challenges with unsuccessful change and transformation.
I have had the privilege of working with so many leaders, facilitated board meetings, been a coach to a number of leaders, facilitated leadership retreats, on and off-site meetings; change and transformation keynote speeches, leadership development programs and facilitated training programs on successful change and transformation. My conclusion to ensuring successful change and transformation is that leaders must begin to see change and transformation as a strategic imperative just as they see financial management, business development, investment, operational excellence and all the other variables impacting the bottom-line, outcomes and results. It is a known fact that the stronger the leadership bench, the greater the results and outcomes. Each line manager, or functional leader must begin to lead change just as they lead their respective functions. The C-Suite should begin to place change and transformation on their executive agenda as they discuss various ideas impacting ROI and business performance. Billions of dollars are wasted each year due to poor leadership and implementation of change and transformation. Projects and programs are aborted each year, territory protection by misaligned leaders affecting transformation outcomes, organizational infighting and politics; resistance from employees taking advantage of the chaos have all impacted successful change and transformation.
My suggestion for leading successful change and transformation is that leaders should now begin to lead the charge on change and transformation rather than leave it in the hands of change and transformation experts, consultants, or practitioners. The role of these change and transformation managers should be about coaching leaders to lead and be the face of change and transformation. The approach should shift from relinquishing change leadership to a few change and transformation hands hired to having functional leaders taking full responsibility and accountability for successful change and transformation. Change and transformation consultants and coaches should become “Guides” helping leaders with the tools, templates, plans, insights, encouragement, for successful change and transformation. When leaders lead successfully, change and transformation success is the outcome.
Tony Robbins said “Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.”
He suggested starting every day by asking yourself these 3 questions:
1. What is something I can do for someone else today?
2. What is something I can do to add value to the world today?
3. What is something that I can offer to other people?
When you ask yourself the right questions, it keeps you focused on the right things and helps you make adjustments in areas where you need to make changes so that you can achieve your goals. You have already completed 3 months of 2019 and its time to take stock of your accomplishments, check what has gone well, what has not, and what you need to do to get back on track for the next three months or the rest of the year. It will be great to evaluate your progress along achievement journey periodically. I suggest you do this assessment every 3 months. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to know whether you are doing well or not.
Here are a number of questions for reflection and taking stock of your life:
What was your biggest triumph the past 3 months?
What was the smartest decision you made?
What one word best sums up and describe your 3 months experience?
What was the greatest lesson you learned?
What was the most loving service that you performed?
What is your biggest piece of “unfinished business“?
What are you most happy about completing the past 3 months?
Who were the two people that had the greatest impact on your life?
What is the biggest risk you took?
What was your theme word the past 3 months?
What are your goals for the next 3 months?
I am very fascinated with the subject of thought. Our thinking patterns have created our current realities and results and if only we watch what we allow into our thinking, we may be able to influence the quality of the results we get. In my quest to understand why I do the things I do, act the way I do, why people behave the way they do and do the things they do, and why people will resist change even if the change is a good thing, I went on a hunt for information to understand the paradox.
My search led me to a profound discovery and it can be summed up in the words of James Allen “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you” This statement says we are responsible for our current results and will be responsible for our future results no matter how creative our excuses might be. We continue to create our current realities through what we think about. Our daily actions, behavior, attitude, routines, are a result of thought. Your result as an individual is an inside job. We first create in thought, and then see the results as evidence.
The great businesses we see are a result of someone’s creative thought. The fantastic buildings we admire first started in someone’s imagination. What are you using your imagination for? Are you using your great mind to come up with excuses why you cannot do this or that? It is very interesting to hear people blaming others for their lack of achievement or progress. Some blame the government, their spouse, the boss, the family heritage, the schools they went to and many others except themselves. Let me give you the shocking news, you have created your current realities and when you begin to accept responsibility for where you are in life you will begin the journey of change.
When you change, the results change. This leads me to the question, could our current thinking patterns create the results we want and don’t want? And could the replacement of these thinking patterns change the results? The answer is a resounding YES. Our current result is not an outside job but rather an inside job. Your outward visible results are a reflection of your inward condition. You can never be any different from what you are inside even if you fake it for years. Do we think about what we are thinking about? Or do we allow any thought to run rampant and flow freely through our minds? Life is not a dress rehearsal and so each day you spend thinking about the wrong stuff, you are wasting away.
The pictures we paint on the canvas of our minds are creating the realities we have. Each one of us is given a LOT in life and it’s our job to build whatever we want on this LOT. The question is what are you building on your LOT? Changing the way we think takes work and time because we have thought a certain way for years. The good news is this, when you make the decision and commit to replace negative dis-empowering thoughts with healthy, results oriented, problem solving, flawless execution thoughts you will then achieve the results you want. You are better than you think!
Over the years, I have been fascinated with the subject of change. I realized that personal change holds the secret to achieving whatever you want in life. Due to the nature of my work, I have observed with admiration, how the decision to change one thing in a person’s life have brought significant benefits to the person and the people around him or her. Change is a precondition for extraordinary results. Change is not about doing extraordinary things but it is doing the ordinary things extraordinary.
To achieve your goals, it’s important to stretch. How will you know what you are capable of unless you stretch yourself? Stretch goals enable us to fulfill our potential. Until you stretch to the ultimate level in whatever you are doing or pursuing you will never know the full extent of your capacity or potential. Athletes have broken records and have set new records through stretch goals. Businesses have achieved significant profitability by setting stretch targets; organizations have exceeded customer expectations through stretch organizational mission, vision and strategic objectives. Individuals have made significant contributions to our world by holding themselves to high standards of performance and productivity. The key is in the word STRETCH!
The need and necessity to continue with the way you have always done things is fine as it defines your comfort zone. We all need a level of stability to frame a better future. We do need the root for stability which makes sense. Though stability and stable structures are good, it does not guarantee you a place with the movers and shakers of our world. Just growing a deeper root is not enough to sustain progress and be successful in the world of change.
Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer
Giving yourself the permission to stretch by embracing change, going beyond the comfort zone, going beyond the call of duty and into the zone of new learning’s, new beginnings, new horizons is the key to a fulfilled life. Imagine a life without change, eating the same meal every single day, doing your job the same way without creativity or innovation, being at the same level in life until you expire. What a life that will be!
Change gives us branches to stretch, grow and reach new heights. We need to be ready, have the interest in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skill, and willing to do whatever it takes to make the change a success.
Start today to develop a liking for change, develop wings for change, the wings to grow, and the wings to fly to new heights. How you may ask? I am glad you asked. You achieve these by giving yourself the permission to fail forward; to learn new things; new technology, new ways of doing things, new perspectives, and an open mind to see the difference.
The tragedy about life is your inability to move beyond FEAR and not giving yourself the permission to grow through change and fail forward. Failure is necessary for Success so get comfortable with failure and fail fast! You can never attain your potential or know how much more you can achieve and accomplish in life when you don’t stretch. Don’t allow your past experiences with change stop you from being open to new possibilities. Change holds the master key to your success. You are better than you think!
Every single person I have met wants a form of success. Some want to succeed in the job, get promoted, work with purpose, succeed in the relationship, make a contribution, bring up great children, leave a legacy, make more money, achieve financial freedom, and fulfill their potential.
To achieve the above calls for personal change. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t become successful by looking outside yourself. Success is what you attract by who you become. You first become and then success is the by-product. I have encountered scores of people who are looking outside themselves for success. Your current challenges with success stems from within you. Always remember that success is an inside job!
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg – C.S. Lewis
To achieve success, personal change is a precondition. It is impossible to achieve success by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Your success is hidden in your daily routine. What are you doing on a daily basis? Is what you are doing moving you in the direction of your goals and dreams? To be successful, you don’t have to look outside yourself, start by looking within. As within, so without! Your outside results are a reflection of your inward condition.
You cannot fly like an eagle and continue to scratch with the chickens. Put another way, you cannot succeed by doing things the same way you have always done them. You cannot do things the same way and expect a different result. Embracing change opens doors and possibilities for each person. Change in whatever form, shape, or size ushers in new possibilities and perspectives. If change is the new normal then it makes a lot sense to learn to work with change now, be very good at riding the waves of change as opposed to working around it or resisting it. Resisting change is a waste of time. Change will happen whether you agree with it or not.
If you want to be very effective, efficient and successful in life, then going through change that comes in the form of challenges, opportunities, and possibilities will set you up for success. It will take time, effort and sometimes PAIN to gain mastery, however, remember every master was once a disaster.
Do you want to fly with the eagles? Then recondition your mind to anticipate and embrace change. Work on yourself. Make the necessary changes and get ready to fly!
Here are a few suggestions for going through change:
Talk to a trusted friend, colleague, and family member about your anxieties, concerns and fears about change. Reflect on how the change will impact your life, family, work, and social networks. Maintain an open mind, prepare yourself psychologically to ride the waves of change, if there are various programs to help you through change, participate in those programs. Be open and curious enough to learn, re-prioritize your life and work so that you can cope with the change. The only way you will have the future you want is to create it! You are in charge of the choices and decisions you make. You are more than you think!
Complaining can be a destructive habit. Some people are chronic complainers and to them the glass is always half empty. When it rains they talk about how gloomy life is and when it’s hot and dry they complain about the heat and the dust around. Constant complaining makes things look worse than they are, it becomes a habit and in the end everything looks bad and nothing is good. Complaining makes you and others despondent, it kills innovation and creativity.
There are two ways to complain. One is constructive complaining which is aimed at improving something to avert future problems. Constructive complaining is when you see a problem in your work environment you complain to whoever can do something about it.
Constructive complaining is about complaining in a way that leads to a problem being addressed rather than leading to more complaining. Destructive complaining is negative, malicious and negative. It seeks to amplify a situation, create confusion, and is toxic to the environment. Show me a very unhappy person and I will show you a life full of complaints. We should avoid the constant complaining, grumbling and moaning, where we’re always complaining about the same things, to the same people, in the same way, day in and day out.
Here is a simple suggestion to try out. This will make a significant difference in your life and also improve your attitude, behavior and outlook. It will also impact positively the people around you. Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once) then watch your life start changing. When you change, the results You are more than you think!
One of the secrets to a life of progress, advancement, success, results, change, is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks. Stumbling blocks are all the things stopping you in the track of progress, from doing what you want to do, an obstacle to progress, self-imposed limitations, False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR), negative thinking, complaining, excuses, selling yourself short, and building erroneous images in your mind.
A great way to advance and do the things you want to do is to realize that there will always be obstacles on the path to success. Using these obstacles as stepping stones is the key to progress. For some, obstacles stop them from relentlessly pursuing their dreams while for others obstacles propel them to greatness. What’s the difference? It’s a matter of perspective. When we begin to reframe the issues of life, the challenges, and obstacles and use these challenges as learning on the path of progress, no obstacle will be able to hold us down permanently.
It is crucial to use the negative and challenging events or experiences to help you achieve something else. If you are doing and pursuing something worthwhile or great, there will always be stumbling blocks. The stumbling blocks is a way of weeding out those who are serious and those who are not. Use stumbling blocks as means to an end, or an opportunity to lead you to "bigger and better" things, and as means of progress towards better performance. You are more than you think!
What we think we become and true change begins with change in the mind. The key to achieving results begins with how well we use our mind. Some people believe that the lack of results in their lives is as a result of someone or something bringing them down when in actual fact its about their thinking habits and patterns. Whatever change you want in your life begins with change in your thinking. Your habitual way of thinking is creating the results you are getting. Your daily routines which are fueled by your thoughts are creating your results and realities. What mental diet are you on? What are you reading, watching, and spending your time with? To change your results you have to change your thinking and what you continuously put in your mind. What change would you like to see in your job, career, family, life, health, finances, and so on?
Dr. Jack Hatkins conducted a research at the University of Tennessee. The 12 year study measured the impact of what people put into their minds. They had a control group and non-control groups listen to a five minute daily radio program. And then they tested them. The results were if there were four negative items in the five minute radio program, the listeners were 1) more depressed, 2) believed the world was a negative place to live, 3) were less likely to help others, and 4) began to believe that what they heard would actually happen to them.
Five minutes empirical research revealed so much about what we feed the mind. Five little minutes of listening to four negative things impacted them that much. Now imagine how your life is changing and being impacted by the things you are feeding your mind. Whatever you are reading is shaping your life for good or for bad. Whatever you are reading is changing you daily without you knowing. What you are watching is impacting your subconscious mind and every image you recall when you need it is coming from the things you are watching. Your mental diet on a daily basis is shaping your daily routines. Someone said your success is hidden in your daily routines. Whatever you are feeding your mind is shaping you into the person you want to be and the person you don’t want to be. If you want to change the result, change what you are putting in your mind. As within so without! The quality of your results on the outside is a reflection of the quality of the thinking on the inside. The words that come out of your mouth are a reflection of your inward condition. You can never be any different from who you are on the inside.
Great results begin from the inside out! When your inward condition is right, your outward condition reflects that. When you internal world is whole, your outside world becomes whole as well. So what results are you getting? Are you happy with your results on the outside? Are you where you want to be in life? What is happening on the inside of you is a clue to the results on the outside. Spend time detoxifying what is happening on the inside and you’re your results on the outside will change.
Here is a great advice from Benjamin Disraeli “Nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think” You are better than you think!
Leadership begins with me! You cannot be a great leader until you are able to lead yourself successfully. Great leadership begins with self-leadership! How are you leading yourself for starters? You lead yourself by motivating yourself to take action, to dream more, learn new things to help you do your job better, the discipline to stay focused no matter the negative elements. How are you inspiring yourself on a daily basis so as to avoid the trap of maintaining the status quo? The status quo may be comfortable but it is the enemy of progress and advancement? Will you be described as inspiring action no matter your level in the organization? Will you work for you? Reflect on this statement for a minute or two. Will you work for you? This is a deep question that needs a deeper dive if you were to understand the full implication of the question.
Dolly Parton said “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then you are an excellent leader “ If you are a parent and a great parent at that, it is your responsibility to inspire your children to fulfil their potential and more. If you are a leader in an organization, it’s your job to inspire and create an enabling environment where people feel great coming to work every single day. I used to tell leaders in my leadership seminars that great leadership is where you leave your work station and work continuous as if you are still around. Will your team be sad when you leave the organization for another job or they will celebrate your departure? These are questions that you and you alone can answer.
Here are a few suggestions to inspire personal action and others to take action:
• Start with the why? Simon Sinek in his book START with the WHY stated that when people are given the reason why, given a purpose for why things are being done, people are moved to action. Simply put, when the why is clear, the how will follow! Load your mind with compelling whys and you will see yourself taking massive action. Help your team to understand the why, and they will find solutions to problems and take creative action.
What are you grateful for this morning? The gift called life? The job you have, friends and family, a healthy body and mind, social connections, ability to pay your mortgage? What are you really grateful for? Training yourself to be grateful is a good thing. Being grateful helps you appreciate life in a more meaningful way. A lot of times we are more focused on what we don’t have that we forget that we have great assets to work with.
Recently, I suggested to a great friend of mine who is a fashion designer. She was having significant health challenges. She was in a wheel chair when we reconnected. I told her to start a gratitude journal and start writing down 10 things she is grateful for every single day. She started the exercise and later informed me of how this new habit has helped her through the toughest seasons of her life. She is now out of the wheel chair and making remarkable recovery. Gratitude is a powerful force! Being grateful has tangible benefits. A few of these benefits are: it is a stress buster, helps boost your immune system, encourages you to be optimistic in the midst of pressures at work and at home, equips you to rise above issues and challenges, helps you focus on what you have working for you rather than against you, helps you appreciate your source of supply, lightens the excess baggage you could be carrying.
William Faulkner said “Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity; it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all”
To start the journey of making gratitude a part of your life here are a few things you can start doing immediately:
Do you want to change the results in your life? START WITH GRATITUDE. You are better than you think!