Affecting Change

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Barack Obama

And… Change is something that goes hand-in-hand with leadership.

This short article is about the process of preparing for change. Eighteen months ago I asked a group of respected colleagues to assist me to see the future. This was my “other time”. There needed to be a change – I wanted to step into a new leadership space. I knew that what I had built was a process of leadership development that assisted people transform. I was passionate that my company and our work to be seen as the transformational leadership organisation in Australia (the world – the universe – infinity and beyond) – because we are.

The two days of focus on my company was the catalyst for many changes. I was completely energised by the process. I could see the small steps and the enormous jumps and I was ready. But then I thought… I thought what about my amazing informal team and my loyal clients. And then what about the bigger picture – our huge “graduate pool” would they still stick with us? I have always felt like I could tear down walls but others do worry about being crushed by the falling rubble I create. So have I found that we all need to consider many things when planning for change, large or small.

Glen Llopis suggests that there are five key areas to consider. His first and final points make enormous sense to me. They are

  • critical thinking
  • clarity of issues

Affectus has seen the importance of thinking and clarity over the many years we have affected leadership in Australia. I, like many, understand the consequences of thoughtless unclear change…it affects everything and everyone.

Let's make this practical.

Providing all involved – your family business members through to your hundreds of workers – clear understanding what is going on and, more importantly, why, is an essential leadership behaviour when preparing for change. I am not ignoring “why”, I will come back to it.

Llopis mentions critical thinking and Affectus agrees. When groups have the opportunity to ask thoughtful critical questions people move, or never even sense, the bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. That is the rung that traps them into thinking “what happens if I can’t feed myself or house myself “. So, by ensuring that the questions are asked, change tends to be smoother (notice the er). And perhaps blocking style questions need to be differently managed, but I won't go into that today.

Why?

I said I would come back to why. When change is suggested or inevitable, why will often be the first question asked – why are you changing the name of your company was asked of me repeatedly.

I had spent time thinking this through but my responsibility was to listen to the way the question was asked – the tone, the additional words woven in when the question was asked and by whom. I then needed to think through how to respond. What was my reason, thinking, and what was the clarity I could offer? How could I respond to the needs in a way that didn’t push people to the bottom rung of Maslow?

I needed to know my Why and then I needed to share that Why in a well-constructed response that would respond to, potentially, the deeper Why.

So planning for change is just as important as the change…clarity around issues, critical questioning and understanding the need to address the Why from others in ways to ensure that everyone (yep everyone) can see the change.

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