Leading Change

You can’t improve performance without change, and you can’t achieve change without leadership. All of your insights and plans just set you up. That’s the difference between an old Chevy without a map and a new Ferrari with a guidance system to get you where you’re going. But a lousy driver at the wheel of the Ferrari won’t get you very far. In thinking about the lessons learned from the 1000+ managers that I’ve worked with over 20 years, if you want to accelerate change that sticks, follow these four simple rules:

  1. Treat people like you’d want to be treated.
  2. If your people aren’t performing as you’d like, or aren’t focusing where needed, start with yourself as the cause. People’s actions are usually rational, based on what they think is expected and how they were trained. Ask what you’re doing or not doing and how that must change to get the change you need.
  3. When I hear the people avoid change I roll my eyes because it’s not true. People will change when it makes sense to them and it’s in their interest. The problem isn’t change — the problem is engagement. The problem is many leaders are lousy at engaging people or just don’t take the time to do so. Show them the direction, help them understand why, then hang in there with them until they get it.
  4. To lead you need a direction. You need to have thought through the way you want people to prioritize and the few most critical goals that they need to focus on. Then you need to make this known, persistently, consistently to get them focused. If you’re going to be a leader, lead!

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