I see and experience repeatedly the lack of time senior executives have. It’s a meeting marathon the moment they arrive at the office. And when the organization is going through change the executive is pulled in even more different directions.
Given change’s intangibility, it’s easy to put off dealing with plans to bring about change. It is, though, a common mistake executives make.
What follows are 10 essential acts for today’s executive causing change. These acts help executives demonstrate their support of change. They also are characteristic of a modern-leader who recognizes people are the key to success.
- Keep Your Sights on the Vision Resist the allure of digging into the weeds when it comes to the change plan. It gets in the way of showing your charisma – a crucial change behavior. Let the specialists on the change team handle the “How” or the execution of the plan. You need to define the vision, promote the vision, and measure progress against it. You’re people and the Board (if applicable) needs you to promote the change.
- Focus on Your Way of Being Think about how you want to “show up” when interacting with employees, even the Board: Supportive, Energetic, Realistic, Compassionate, Inquisitive, and so on.
- Acknowledge Blind Spots Executives, (heck we all have them) have blind spots triggered by their experiences as a senior manager and by their role in the company. How and what they see in the organization is not what employees and middle managers see. Spend time with these groups of employees to understand where they’re coming from. Remember Covey’s Quote: “Seek first to understand, the to be understood.” It will help you relate to their world and them to your world.
- Create Moments that Matter I advocate repeatedly that executives need to be more visible during times of change. Be available to personally recognize a team’s diligent work. Send a video thanking a team for achieving a milestone. Show that you know that employees’ are going (or will go) through change. Abandon the “it’s their job” perspective. It will drive cynicism and negatively impact the quality and financial outcomes.
- Watch the language! Trust and respect are paramount in business. Maintain both by keeping commitments, speaking candidly, and seeking to understand. Reliable communications go a long way to building trust and respect.
- Delegate Decisions Down Change momentum will stall and likely die if decisions are not delegated to middle management and to employees who understand the need for change. Be clear on any limits to decisions. Don’t punish failures due to poor decisions.
- Cancel Meetings None of the above can be accomplished and some level of sanity maintained if you’re in meetings all day. Change is demanding for executives. Schedule time to “get out” and visit with employees, the community. Think leadership-by-walking-around.
- Focus on Today Change is so future-oriented that we forget to enjoy today. Reinforce present-day thinking: Inquire about successes that occurred present day. Celebrate a milestone the day it occurs.
- Remember the Humanity in Business People respond to change differently – rationally and irrationally. Don’t make the irrational wrong and the rational right. It simple just is. Acknowledge publicly the struggles associated with change. Encourage a dialogue around what people go through. As an executive you have the influence and power to lessen the sting that change can create. More importantly, you can inspire conversations about change that may otherwise never surface.
- Stand in Service. Serve Your People. At the end of the day your business exists to deliver the best product and/or service to your customers. Both require well-trained, passionate employees. If you show that you are willing to prepare people for the changing future, and you encourage their hearts and minds, your support for the change deepens and widens.
What would you add to this list? Share your ideas below.
We dive deeper into causing change in our Change Playbook. Download it for free today.