After over 20 years working across the IT sector, I’ve repeatedly seen a pattern of problems with national and international companies. However, the more I focus on building my own leadership skills and striving for a more infinite mindset, the more I notice many problems companies face that could be mitigated by leadership stepping up and leading more like guides.
Understandably, businesses can get it wrong because things change fast, but if you want to survive, you can’t keep repeating the same mistakes.
Getting it wrong
#1 — Perspective
When it comes to businesses that seek to stay relevant, they often miss the right perspective. Instead of focusing on the end-user, they talk about “change” for the sake of change itself. As if that’s the thing everyone needs to do and how the problems will be solved. In short, they may have a perspective, but, often, it’s the wrong one.
By applying the wrong perspective, companies miss, including the people tasked with implementing this change.
Change is often reasonable and necessary, but when the strategy is missing and the perspective isn’t aligned with the most important thing — your employees’ needs—you create huge gaps in the organization.
This, of course, leads to severe problems that often result in unexpected and adverse outcomes. Because the perspective is wrong, trust is lost, reputation takes a hit, and the chance of creating lasting change dies.
After a while, you begin to notice a pattern.
And that’s not to say that businesses are failing on purpose. If anything, it’s perfectly understandable that tunnel vision or lack of perspective is so shared among many organizations — people today, even if they are the CEO of a company, are under tremendous pressure and stress to keep up with rapid change.
But, at some point, you need to include your employees and listen to them to better manage the journey.
#2 — Mindset:
When your organization is going through many changes, your mindset determines the ease of the process. If you don’t have the right mindset, your chances of aligning with your employees aren’t high.
If you can change your mindset, though, you have a chance to succeed where many businesses fail. For example, suppose you adopt a service-focused mindset where you’re always looking for ways to see the needs of the people directly affected by the changes your organization is handing down. In that case, you start creating trust and show your employees you value them. If you can get into this mindset, your team will feel a sense of belonging and buy-in for the changes you want to make will grow from the ground up, instead of being resisted with a traditional top-down management style.
Change comes more from leading the journey, not announcing the destination.
Remember, change comes more from leading the journey, not announcing the destination. As a leader, you need to keep this firm in mind.
A few suggestions
From my experience as a leader and an employee, I think a few ideas would be good to keep in mind. First, when you lead with social intelligence skills and embrace adaptability, you learn how to focus and what to focus on.
It’s mostly a question of the leadership stepping up, showing that the organization cares and is worth fighting for. Without that, failure is close at hand.
Leaders must understand that communicating vision and the end of the road is not the same thing as talking about change. Change is more about how you will get there with a more resilient organization.
The posts I wrote about “Social Intelligence Leads The Way” and “The Adaptable Leader” has some suggestions about how leaders can use their strengths. This will guide your employees through struggles and uncertain times, leading to small victories, more substantial success, and lasting change.
Lead like a guide
When you’re implementing change in your company, be there when people need it the most. This means not just at the start of a new direction but all the way through. This is one of the hardest parts, but your mindset changes when you adopt a guide’s approach. You see others before yourself, and you get a different perspective. You see a bigger picture because you’re also looking through the eyes of your employees.
As people respond to change differently, you need to adapt to that and take time to listen and understanding what the change feels like in the middle of it. This type of leadership will help make it easier to navigate and mitigate the risks that come with change.
It also will keep people loyal to you and ready to follow and implement your new direction because you’ve included their perspective in the overall focus and goal.
Empowering is crucial as it’s about removing obstacles so people can excel in what they are doing. When you allow others, you give them a shoulder to stand on to reach new heights. That is needed when your organization is stretching itself and its employees to embrace change and reach new goals. Doing this creates trust, and that’s what you need to succeed in any significant change.
When going through a change, your qualities as a leader will show. And by being aware of people and guiding them, you can still create a business where people feel safe and are inspired to deliver their best efforts — even in the middle of change.
If you make the mistake of thinking your title is what makes people follow you or try and use command and control to get people to implement the changes you are making, you run a significant risk of losing your best performers. They won’t stay around when their voice isn’t heard, or their skills aren’t used. By adapting your leadership style, you have a chance to keep your team together and navigate the stormy waters of change when they wash up.
Anyone can have the title of leader, but to be considered a leader worth following is not about the title appointed to you. When your company is undergoing global change, it can be challenging for people to trust that you will have the right perspective and mindset to guide them through the transition.
Having the right perspective, maintaining a proper mindset, and leading like a guide can make you a reputable leader.
In my next post in this leadership series, I will write more about why you need to create a culture where people feel safe knowing that you will always be there to guide them, listen to them, share with them, and involve them in every step of the journey. But, first, when doing this, you will genuinely empower the people in your organization.
[This post was originally posted on Medium, May 3, 2017]