A recent study found that, when doctors tell heart patients they will die if they don't make lifestyle changes, only 1 in 7 actually make a change.
It's a shocking statistic, don't you think? Just 1-in-7 made a change.
I mean, if we can’t convince people faced with the ultimate bad news to change themselves, then what hope can we possibly have for creating change in our organisations?
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE
Speak to any leader and they’ll tell you that change is the single most difficult challenge they face.
Part of the problem is in our thinking. Leaders seek to succeed in attracting the right talent by looking outside their organisations. They see "capability" as if it is a fixed resource that exists “out there”. But they do this at their peril – they put themselves and their organisations at a serious disadvantage.
The leaders who ask themselves “What can I do to make my current workplace the most fertile ground for the growth of talent we already have?” put themselves in the best position to succeed.
To take advantage of new opportunities or meet new challenges leaders will need to work with the talent they already have in the workplace.
Effective leaders of the future will understand that, for organisations to deliver on their biggest aspirations, they must change from the inside out.
Making team cultures more open to expressions of personal and professional vulnerability is what facilitates change.
Again, the problem, right now, is in our thinking.
Many people see leadership as a quality they develop outside of themselves. It's something artificial, like a bad actor playing a bad role. They develop leadership skills, but they themselves stay the same and never change.
The mistake here is to think that leadership is always and only about being objective, as opposed to also being sensitive.
YOU ARE NOT SUPERMAN (OR SUPERWOMAN)
Workplace research shows that invulnerability is the biggest killer of trust in teams.
Invulnerability means that leaders and staff don't show their underbelly. They work in cultures that punish people who show their soft edges. Invulnerability can fuel unhealthy competition, hard-edged communication and internal relationships that undermine openness to self-disclosure that facilitates change.
Leaders must develop leadership qualities "from the inside out" and then turn leadership in to an acitivity that embraces and encourages whole human beings.
The take-home message is that, if you want to create an environment for continuous change, you must first allow the people you already have in our workplaces to transform themselves.
Change and improvement means facing up to things in ourselves we need to do better or differently. It requires speaking our areas of "weakness" out loud.
That's very challenging. So to do it successfully we have to have an environment that allows that to be possible. We have to not be punished for doing it.
Leaders need to “model” transformation in themselves. This is not the only step required, but it’s the first one you need to start the journey.
In doing so, you signal that honesty is allowed and you encourage the people around you to be vulnerable like you, to be brave enough to enact personal and professional transformation in the workplace.
This is why so much of the leadership literature now focuses on “authenticity”, “agility” and “emotional intelligence”. Because it’s the capacity to facilitate change in self that ultimately allows us to facilitate change in others – and that’s what’s going to drive innovation and competition in organisations in the future.
There's a great book about this sort of change called Immunity to Change and you can read more about it here.
Are you up for real transformation?
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Some of this article references a great book about this sort of change called Immunity to Change and you can read more about it here.
Here's the Harvard Business Review on leadership and change.
Here The New York Times on governing for change through diversity.