Remember the lesson of the fence post – If we paint a fence post white we think the post will always be white but time unfolds a different story. It will not remain white for long – thus the need for renewal and refreshing. This reality holds true for your present context of leadership. The question is – What is the best way to go about the challenge of renewal and change? Here are three more maxims for wise change leadership.
4. Get ready, don’t just get going. It is amazing to hear change stories, where a common theme is change efforts that are engaged in without a great deal of thought as to how to engage the journey well. If you are going to engage a change effort take time to get ready. As a world class chef stated, the most important part of a great meal is in the planning. The same is true for more effective change, the key is in preparation and planning. In the “Contributions” segment of @large we have provided you with an overview of the eight characteristics of the most effective change efforts as framed by John Kotter. The best way to get ready is to ask these vital questions. As with our fence post – the work of refreshing and renewing will proceed at a better pace if the tools, materials and plan are in hand before you begin to touch the post.
5. Create short-term wins, don’t just hope for them. Wise change leaders embrace the power of small wins in the pursuit of big change. Change is scary for most of us and the larger the change journey the more fear dominates the caravan. Small wins reduce anxiety, increase do-ability, foster control, and give people hope that the longest journey can be taken by single steps. Let folks know, this week Bill is going to sand down the post and next week we will pick up the paint. Stay tuned!
6. Embrace the resistance, don’t just endure it. As puzzling as it may seem, some folks like the fence post just the way it is. Resistance is present wherever change is proposed and pursued so stop trying to convert everyone at the starting line – it actually can’t be done. A better posture is to expect, embrace and then engage the resistance with clear vision, consistent communication, calm presence, and empathetic understanding for the emotions that swirl when change is in the air.
As you think of your current change challenge, how are you doing? Are you spending time and effort meticulously getting ready for the change journey? Are you actually framing some small wins for the starting phase of your change effort? Are you seeing resistance as your friend rather than your enemy? The wisest of change leaders sell the problem, face the losses, shape the vision, get ready, create short term wins, and embrace the resistance. Even the fence post project requires some skill and wisdom. Remember, if it isn’t a bit strange it isn’t really change!