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A Change Leader's New Years Reflections

Posted by Stephen Parry on Dec 31, 2015 1:52:01 AM

I send out the Lean Leaders Christmas Reflections article (see below) every year to my clients who are in the process of changing their organisations. The wise words in that article are not mine and come from a friend involved in change for a great many years. The article talks about being caught up in the "things" of the situation and not the purpose of the situation.

I want to add to that article and provide my Change Leadership Reflections for the New-Year.

It comes as no surprise to me that working towards the implementation of "things" in a project plan instead of developing Change-maker conversations is always easier because it needs little talent and not much courage. Implementing 'things' is usually perceived and justified as the safe route, the incremental route, when in reality it can become the most patronising route because it leads to treating staff like children and under no circumstances must we scare the children. All this is an avoidance tactic to push away the real work of change - that is have difficult conversations and debates about the Purpose, why do we do what we do. And importantly the need to change the unproductive relationships between management and staff and create an environment where willing contribution is normal.

This is called change leadership and is the real job of change-makers at all levels in the organisation.

Sadly, I rarely see change-maker leadership from individuals instead they stick to the 'things' in the project plan ignoring the human need to change attitudes, behaviours and relationships that are crucial for sustainable and effective change.   While it is rare that does not mean it never happens. Some step into the role of change-maker choosing to lead oneself, so others may do so too.

The greatest risk to any improvement program is failing to improve our leadership and substitute the real work with the busy work passed off as real change in the hope that we never have to face the tough questions because we are expected to know all the answers before we start. 

You can only lead change, you cannot manage change. Program plans and charts and presentations and status meetings is not leadership. Plans are worthless, planning is everything.

[bctt tweet="Plans are worthless, planning is everything. #changeleadership"]

It is in every conversation that change leadership happens, in every planning session (not to be confused with a project status meeting), where ideas are shaped and purpose is made more clear. Leadership means constantly changing your route to change the minds and insights of others and force reflection from everyone including yourself, especially when the route is unclear and we don't have all the answers yet.

Changing your mind is evidence that you are thinking and learning, not changing your mind is evidence you are not.

Leadership is the art of possibility in the face of reality. If you are not falling down enough and getting back up then you are not changing enough.

Change is not about the implementation of things, it about the transformation of minds- especially the minds of those leading the program. Leadership is an activity not a position.

The Change Maker Guide

Purpose- it must be your fearless passion otherwise do not even start. Anything else will leave you disappointed.

Vision - it must be the world you wish to create for those around you.

Strategy - is the overall approach.

Tactics - are the day by day conversations and actions that ensure you survive the journey. They happen in an instant. They cannot be planned. They are opportunistic, requiring confidence, resourcefulness, and clarity of purpose, vision and strategy. -Project plans are of no use here only the strength of your planning conversations can save you.

If you have none of these you will not find the honesty, courage and tenacity to overcome yourself or begin helping others overcome the busy busy bang bang world of mindless doing. 

Reflect on what YOU fear the most inside yourself and you will find the biggest risk to change.

Warm regards,

Stephen Parry

Topics: Customer Value Principles