The Big ‘C’ Word
Change is confronting, exciting, scary and exhilarating – all at the same time. It can be big or small, a tweak or a complete transformation. Change is what keeps us moving forward and relevant.
I was speaking with my son the other day and asked him what made a parent cool? His answer was ‘someone who is up to date but not trying to be young. Someone who is not trying too hard. Someone who is cool for their age’
It struck me that this is the secret to any authentic change or transformation. Being clear on your brand, personality and building on that core to remain relevant. Having a clear vision – that North Star that continues to guide and motivate you. This is the difference between being genuinely cool and cringe try hard!
Being able to reinvent without selling out or losing sight of your soul, your why and who you are as a brand; is the difference between authentic purpose led change and a short-lived band aid quick fix.
Resistance to change and reinvention will result in your business stagnating and eventually declining. It will mean repeating the same mistakes, sitting still while others surge ahead, and finding yourself stuck in old ways just because it’s what you’ve always done. The reality of this is more extreme now than it has ever been.
Growth requires reinvention but it needs to be authentic, brand and vision led. If not, your efforts may be short-lived, lack depth and your brand may lose its edge!
Change done right
There are some well documented transformation stories, jam packed with great insights and a common ‘success’ theme. Each is understrong, clear and committed leadership with a long term vision as the driving force.
This blog summarises the successful transformation journeys of Netflix, Apple and Lego, and highlights 4 key messages:
- Rarely does change occur without adversity. Despite the turbulence, twists and turns, leaders need to remain committed to the change, create a plan and then trust that plan
- Stay true to your vision while embracing evolution
- Change is coming no matter what. You can either resist and watch your business lose relevance or get out in front and be part of the future.
- Whilst it is important to embrace change and move forward, keep your core business in tact….think evolution vs revolution.
8-Step Change Process
I am a huge fan of Professor John Kotter – a world-renowned business change expert. In his best-selling 1995 book ‘Leading Change’, he introduces an 8-step change process which is as robust and smart now as it was 27 years ago. Whether you are leading change for a small, large or medium size business, this simple process based on core leadership principles and strong communication, makes sense:
1. Establish sense of urgency: Identify an opportunity and then describe it in a way that will excite, motivate and bring people together.
2. Form a powerful coalition: The nerve centre of the change process. It should include a cross section of functions and multiple levels of hierarchy.
3. Create a compelling vision for change: The vision and strategic actions will be communicable, desirable, create a verbal picture, flexible, feasible, imaginable and simple.
4. Communicate that vision: Spread the word, build excitement and develop a feeling of ‘want to (vs have to) contribute’
5. Empower Action: By removing barriers such as inefficient processes and unimportant tasks, leaders create the freedom for the team to work across boundaries and create real impact.
6. Plan for and create short term wins: Tracking progress will motivate and harness teams to drive change. Every win is a good result and these should be collected, communicated and celebrated, early and often
7. Build on the changes: Be relentless, keep pushing after the initial wins, create momentum, build trust and credibility and make the vision a reality
8. Make it stick: embed the changes into all aspects of the business. Define and connect the change, the expected behaviours, the processes with the organisation’s success.
The reality is, effective change management is all about leadership. Without strong and authentic leadership, any change will be short lived and its impact sabotaged.
What is Authentic Leadership?
Authentic leadership is not a leadership style. It is built on character – it is who you are extended into the way you lead. Authentic leaders have a beautiful blend of long-term vision and the here and now. They have a long range vision, but are focused on the present, believing that conquering one-step-at-time will lead to long term success.
If you look at some of the undisputed authentic leaders over time – Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, to name a few,…..they share(d) the same qualities:
- Self-Aware – they understand and own their strengths and weaknesses and reflect on these in relation to their decisions and actions.
- Heart Led – they are not afraid to look within and lead their teams with courage and empathy
- Focused on long-term results – they don’t worry about temporary set-backs or hiccups along the way. They know that patience and hard work will deliver results in the long run.
- Integrity – Strength of character is a key quality. They don’t say things they don’t mean. People respect and trust them because of this quality – they keep their word no matter what.
- Lead with vision – They are purpose driven and add value to people they interact with and help them realise their higher goals. They push themselves and others to raise the bar and aim for excellence.
- Good Listeners – even when someone contradicts their view. They consider what people are saying with an open mind and are will to change their opinion if it feels right and makes sense.
- Transparency – Authentic leaders believe in open communication and are able to combine their directness with empathy, which more often than not brings success. The image they project in public is who they are. They don’t hide their mistakes and weaknesses and have the courage to actually be who they really are.
- Consistent – they aren’t fickle and stick to their principles. They are not swayed by superficialities.
- Share success with their team – they not only build a great team, but they share success and achievements with the whole team.
- Draw on experience – Authentic leaders draw and share lessons learnt from experience – real life stories, lessons and tips to help others grow and improve.
Authentic Leaders are Strong Brands
Along with these qualities, Authentic Leaders are strong brands. They know who they are, what they believe in, and the image/story they want people to think of when they hear their name. Authentic leaders consistently, do great work and deliver. When we hear the name Nelson Mandela, we immediately think of a wise, strong man with a sense of calm, who fought tirelessly for human rights. Likewise, we all have an image of Richard Branson despite most of us having never having met him – an infectious personality. He is fun, adventurous and champion of innovation and disruption….’screw it let’s do it’ is his brand.
Authentic leaders keep moving forward, always one-step ahead of the trend. They are diverse, interesting and multi-dimensional story-tellers openly sharing experiences and lessons gained over their years.
I love working with entrepreneurs and business leaders to develop a vision led growth plan for their business. I support them to create a roadmap and use their authentic leadership skills to create a change-ready team aligned with that vision and focused on long term success.
My book, ‘Demystifying the Road to Change’, is a ‘go-to’ guide to setting businesses up for long term success. Following my 3 stage, step-by-step process, you’ll discover
- Why past attempts to reboot your business slid to a halt.
- How to power through the roadblocks and keep moving ahead.
- What to do, when to do it, and how to execute every stage to achieve your business dreams.
- How to create a dynamic culture that people want to be a part of.
- A step-by-step pathway, complete with templates and checklists to take you and your leadership team through a collaborative process.
- How to set your business up for long-term growth.
If you would like to find out more or discuss your specific business, I would love to have a chat .