Leading Through Change

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As an executive, leading through change can be a difficult process.

In my consulting business, I’ve had some interesting observations working with clients who have hired me to work through important organizational changes. Here’s my perspective on leading through change – based on the concept of mutual success.

Leading through change? Success is all about your approach.

Most organizations operate, on some level, as a benevolent dictatorship. The buck has to stop somewhere, and not all conversations are going to be brought up for a vote. After all, for executives, some meetings can end with someone very upset, unhappy… or unemployed.

When you are the person in charge, it’s even more critically important for you to recognize the people that matter to your success. Approach your employees, your team or your constituents in a way that prepares them to engage with your ideas. Choose the path that gets you to the results you want – but consider the individuals along the path.

C-Level Adjustments?

If a hard-driving style is all you’ve got, maybe you should consider some coaching. Your words are vitally important to your team; consider them carefully.

At the same time, business doesn’t always get done with a hug. Results trump feelings…but how do you get to the results if you don’t recognize the people involved? When the stakes are high, how do you balance the results with the human element?


Jeffrey Hayzlett, Author of "Running the Gauntlet"

“You only have eight seconds to capture someone’s attention”. – Jeffrey Hayzlett, Author of Running the Gauntlet and The Change Agent Blog


In the initial eight seconds that Jeffrey Hayzlett talks about, it’s crucial to show a connection with the listener, even if they’re paid to listen. Your passion for your subject is front and center, not an inseparable self-love of your own ideas.

Yes, your ideas are strong, they need to be heard, and your audience wants to listen – but don’t make it hard for them with a bombastic introduction.

The question you’ve got to ask yourself is:

Will the results and strategy that got you here, get you there?

If you are managing through change, and you need to rally the troops around a new vision for the organization, you have to start your remarks in a way that considers the listener.

At the end of the day, or at the end of the pitch, you may want to lay down an ultimatum: “If you can’t get behind this policy, I need to know now, so that I can act accordingly”. But edicts and threats are a delicate business, leading (at best) to compliance. If you want to captivate and persuade, consider the approach that draws in your listener – even when you don’t have to. Make the choice to be the kind of leader that considers the audience. Replace direction with inspiration, and watch what happens.

And, if nothing happens, it’s probably time to replace the audience.

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