Are your people ready to change?

If you’re in a bad situation, don’t worry it’ll change.  If you’re in a good situation, don’t worry it’ll change.  ~  John A. Simone, Sr.  

At a time when most businesses are seeking ways to emerge from the effects of the recession, and get themselves back on the road to economic growth, one inevitable question their leaders will all face will be, “What things are going to have to change around here to start us moving again?”  

  • Will the strategy and tactics they have been deploying during the crunch be the same ones they need to drive growth?  
  • How do they shift mindsets on their management teams from ‘cost avoidance’ to ‘growth and profit’? 
  • Do they need different types of people in their company to take them in a different direction?
  • Will their own leadership style need to be different as they move forward?
  • Are they even the right leader to take the company forward and be successful?

Some of these questions can be extremely daunting, and will challenge even the most competent leaders. However, much will depend on how the workforce has been led during the period of recession. 

Have people been continuously aware that this day was coming, or will it come as a surprise to them  that they are now expected to do things differently, think differently, perhaps adopt new practices.  Remember, even unpleasant circumstances become comfortable after a while, and people will resist moving away from the ‘way things are’ even if they are promised a better future.polar-bear-ice

It’s not enough to simply promise things will get better and hope they will change.  One major reason for this, we now know, is because of the way our brains are organised. Regular patterns of thinking and behaviour become ‘wired’ at the neural level. It is certainly not a trivial matter of expecting people to one day waken up and operate as if they had a different wiring pattern. Not even after the most rousing and stirring ‘all-hands’ kick-off event !!  Our brains need to have new connections created (and old connections disused and atrophied) over a period of time in order for new patterns of thinking and behaviour to take root. New visions, positive futures, different expectations, alternate rewards, all help generate these new connections, and ultimately, different behaviours.

That’s why the best leaders Continue reading

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Are you a Lighthouse Leader?

I recall a seminar I attended a few years ago, where Chris Nichols (of Ashridge Consulting)  put forward the idea of thinking of leaders as lighthouses.  The concept has taken on new significance at this current time, as I observe businesses flounder, adrift in an ocean of unpredictability.  No business was ever created without a vision, aspirations, goals and dreams of succeeding.  Yet, the prevailing climate, the gloom of the global economy, and the rhetoric of politicians and media commentators, all combine to dampen spirits and encourage business leaders to keep their heads down till conditions change for the better. The trouble with this approach is that this will not help conditions change any time soon.

People tend to feed their emotions on what is around them, and if the only diet available is pessimism, negativity and aversion to risk, then that will, more than likely, become the prevailing culture.

We need leaders to be lighthouses. But, it is no good expecting to be able to navigate your course from a single beacon at the top of an organisation. To be able to steer one’s way successfully we need many lighthouses illuminating our way.  Many leaders, at all levels,  who act as beacons in a sea of darkness.  We need growing networks of lighthouses, whose beams combine to cast increasing clarity.

Those businesses that emerge from the current economic situation, in a stronger, leaner, and more vibrant state than others, are those that are Continue reading