Leadership Effectiveness: Be the Change You Want to See

Leadership Effectiveness: Be the Change You Want to SeeWhen a CEO and top executive team want to drive change in their organization, they are well served by starting with their own behaviors. Identifying the behaviors that will support and drive the desired change and then role-modeling those behaviors is a surefire way to instill credibility into any large-scale change process. Having said that, the executives must understand it is how they are perceived by others that matters much more than how they grade themselves as agents of change.

To avoid dealing with the discomfort of looking at themselves, senior management will sometimes invite consultants in to assess their organizations. They ask the consultants to review performance programs, metrics, and communication strategies, but they may forget the importance of their own behavior to the outcomes of system-wide change initiatives. To rapidly boost change, the best companies look first at what the top leaders need to do behaviorally as individuals and what they need to do collectively as a management team. Then, once they earn a “credibility quotient as agents of change,” they seek to improve systems, organizational design, performance reviews, and other processes.

One company we worked with began by looking first at what was required of the senior management team to live the change they wanted to see, as perceived by the rank-and-file. They were amazed at how big the gap was between their perceptions of their own effectiveness and the perceptions of their stakeholders. They were also surprised at how well aware the employees were of the changes that needed to be made. Employees were expecting their leaders to: create the vision, live the values, develop the strategy, and then create the environment where the employees could engage and deliver. As a result, the senior leaders put together a leadership improvement plan for the senior management team and each individual member to follow up on so that they could ensure that the strategic transformation was rapidly implemented and sustained.

If you want to accelerate change in your system, you have to be willing to live it, be a role model for it, hold yourself accountable, and receive feedback from those impacted by you to see if you’re actually doing what you say you want them to. Otherwise, save your money on those support systems or other interventions because they won’t have impact.

Step 1:  Identify the strategic transformation.
Step 2:  Define what it looks like when you get there.
Step 3:  Identify the behaviors required to achieve the transformation.
Step 4:  Identify the gaps between the current behaviors required to be the change.
Step 5:  Develop individual and team action plans to ensure change occurs.
Step 6:  Determine that the needed improvements are made.

Are you living the change you want to see in your organization or are you speaking about it without walking your talk?  Are you looking in the mirror before you look out the window?

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