I received the above illustration of “The Change Process” from my outstanding coach and transformational leader John Assaraf over a year ago, when I was going through a challenging transition. Though I was already an experienced change manager, leading strategic change projects for fortune companies, this illustration, along with John’s recommendations, were enlightening. They helped me to identify where most organizations are stuck at.
Based on my almost two decades of experience in the Information Technology sector, we are still in a big transition phase. With the Global Economy, changes are coming and going faster than any other sector I know about.
In a majority of organizations, people remain on the left side of the curve illustrated above for too long. They experience resistance, chaos, frustration and disengagement continuously. Many people try going further, but encounter lack of support and are quickly discouraged. These organizations are in need of strong transformational leadership.
They call for great leaders with transformative vision, endurance and experience, to take people to the right side of the curve. This will lead to an exciting experience of improved performance, increased productivity and holistic strength, while delivering outstanding and rewarding solutions.
We have many people acting as change managers and they contain the chaos. Many succeed in managing people to deliver solutions in challenging conditions and at their own risk. As a result, you end up with employees who are disengaged, overwhelmed, burned out and want to quit.
Often, people appear extremely busy, but their achievements are low and they lack direction and focus. These situations are dominated by ego, blame, misbalance, excess of politic and everyone protecting themselves because they recognize that they don’t have a true leader to rely on. In these situations, there are more people working against each other instead of together, unfortunately. This drains ROI for many organizations.
Here are 10 strategies you can implement to be the transformational leader your people will look up to during this time of transition:
1. Have a vision and believe in it
Whether you have a team of 2 people or an organization of thousands of people, you need a vision. Know where you are going, map it out, and share that vision with people in the organization that will support you. Create your vision support team. It is great having a critical thinker on the vision team, but not a vision killer.
2. Acknowledge the change that people are experiencing
Change is a part of life and that is how we evolve. Acknowledge change as a normal part of life and cut out blame, resentment, and worry. Open people’s minds to evolve to new possibilities and new visions. Only then you can be sure that they are ready to receive your vision.
3. Create your full strategy down to implementation plan
Your vision is only a dream without a proper strategy and implementation plan. Your strategy is your roadmap. It is the direction that your people need to make the vision a reality. Create your strategy and involve your support team to develop the implementation plan. The best strategies are the ones thought out fully, from end to end. It does not matter that you don’t have all the detailed steps figured out. Your support team and your people will help you with that later.
4. Share the vision with your people and engage them with it.
They are hungry for direction, so show them where you are all heading. Answer to their fears, show them the rewards and show them that you care both for the organization and for them. Too many leaders focus mainly on the organization’s objectives and their personal objectives and so little on the employee’s objectives. Show them opportunities. Show them how the experience will benefit them and make them come out as winners. Show them the means you plan for them for when the going gets tough. Show them simply that you care.
Keep in mind this quote by Doug Conant, former Campbell’s Soup CEO “To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.”
5. Change your mindset and help your people change their mindset
Now that you have your vision and your support team, you must work on switching their mindset to focus on your new vision so that their motivation does not die. Implement this positive mindset in your communications, in their surroundings, in the processes and systems in place, in how you care for them… Make them solution-driven. Help them be mindful with the vision on a continual basis.
According to Mark Waldman – a world-leading brain expert, neuroscientist, executive MBA professor, coach to multimillion dollars CEO – whom I had the opportunity to learn from and work with, says companies who make it are the ones with a positive thought ratio of 1 to 3. This means that for each negative thought, people have to experience 3 positive thoughts in order to move forward. Worry never helps solve a challenge, but instead, it makes things worse. Focusing on the positive outcomes, focusing on solutions will help achieve the vision.
6. Lead with your strategy and not with your emotions
According to Neuroscientist and brain expert Mark Waldman still, “our brain is designed for survival”. It means that whenever we are in front of a challenge, whether it is something new or risky, our brain will normally trigger emotions related to fear and survival just to protect us. This is especially true if we already experience or witness some type of pain, failure or fear that our brain will remind us of. Having your strategy well created will help you to “plug and play” and not give in to your fears.
7. Reprogram your brain to align your conscious and subconscious minds in order to achieve your vision
From the latest neuroscience discovery, our brain is not merely a lump of tissue but it keeps growing, creating new neural pathways if we train it to. This is called Neuroplasticity. Scientists have discovered that the best way to achieve better performance, productivity, well-being and focus is through “innercise”. The same way we use exercise to work on external body muscles. You can find pre-made innercises created for you in the self-transformation programs but let’s continue with this first.
8. Be a good risk manager
Your plan will surely deviate and that is normal since we are humans and do not control everything. What you can do is to be thoughtful, identify potential risks for each area of your plan, and develop contingency plans (along with resources) to mitigate them.
9. Be a good negotiator
Everything may be possible, but in a certain time frame, with resources and strategy. A great leader takes that into account and negotiates deliverables to prevent chaos, confusion and deception. It also shows respect to team members, accountability towards clients, higher management, investors ... and that you can be relied upon.
10. Invest in yourself and take care of yourself
Keep learning. Develop your skills continuously and take care of yourself. Move away from negativity and destructive people. Develop empathy, self-awareness, and discipline. Improve listening skills, communication skills, fairness, and knowledge both in the field and outside, to be able to make better decisions. Be decisive, appreciative, uplifting, encouraging, trustworthy and honest.
As leaders, we can be so busy caring for others that we tend to neglect ourselves. As I have learned from my outstanding coach Lisa Nichols, “We are supposed to serve from our saucer and not from our cup. Therefore, we must keep filling up our cup to overflowing.”
By taking care of yourself, you will serve your people better.
Now that I’ve said it all, back to my own continuous learning to better serve people and organizations. If you need my help, you are welcome to reach out to me anytime.