In Change, Leaders

“The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” – Kakuzo Okakura

Change is constant. There is no part of our businesses that is exempt from it. Our customers change, our competitors change, or people change, our products change, the rules we’re required to follow change – there’s no end to it. If you could really accurately measure the amount of time & energy $ money you spend making change, you’d be astounded.

And yet, most organizations are terrible at change. Roughly 70% of change initiatives fail. Think about all that wasted time & energy & money. Unfortunately, most people think they can’t do any better. Even more unfortunately, those who believe that are probably right.

The reality, though, is that change is a science like any other. Businesses that are good at change do very specific things that make them good at change. It’s not magic, you’re not naturally born good or bad at change. It’s a set of capabilities and behaviors, and anybody can learn and do them.

We don’t have space here for a dissertation, but the behavior that’s come up a lot lately has to do with leaders. When your business is trying to make change, the leaders have to support it. Not just say “yes” and go along with it, and not just get up in front of everybody and give a motivational speech, but actually be actively engaged, repeatedly and publicly over the entire time period the change is going on.

Too many leaders just give lip service to change, but then when the time comes for them to be part of it, they won’t do it. If you as a leader tell everybody how important it is that something happen, and then you won’t lift a finger or participate in actually making it happen, the message you’re sending is clear: this really isn’t that important.

So pay attention to what you’re doing as your organization attempts to make change. Do you give a great sounding speech at the beginning and then disappear? Do you tell everybody how important this change is and then hide in your office? Or are you actively engaged in making change happen? Are you out there participating, encouraging, leading the way?

Your behavior as the leader will go a long way towards determining whether your business can make successful change. Don’t be the reason for failure.

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