The Balanced and Authentic Life

Scan 4

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  Oscar Wilde

I was recently asked to present a talk on the subjects of authentic living, and living a balanced life. As I typically do, I’ll look through articles and books I have read previously and also search for current articles on the same topics. I was quite surprised to find how seldom the word authenticity appeared in business and psychological literature. It appears that most of what we are reading is pushing us to do more, rather than be more. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us are struggling to find balance. Or even more unfortunate, many of us are completely out of balance, having become almost entirely focused on doing, rather than being. So how do we regain our focus, and start on the journey to getting back to being authentic people who live balanced lives?

Becoming an authentic person really requires us to adopt a holistic view of ourselves. Authors Bob Rosen and Kathie RossIn have developed The Healthy Leader Model, which is an excellent framework for pursuing authentic living. As you can see from their model, there is so much more to us than we often acknowledge. We are so much kinder to ourselves and others when we look to develop ourselves holistically. As the business investor extraordinaire Warren Buffet says, “Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do”.

The Healthy Leader Model

The Healthy Leader Model

I remember the first time I heard someone say, ‘I need to be more productive.‘ The phrase may sound like a call to live responsibly, but subtly I think our performance based culture has robbed us of what it means to be authentically human. I know I’m not the first to make this observation; we are human beings, which means we cannot be defined only by what we do. It is far more important for our own well-being to find out who we are, not just what we do, and live our lives informed by that perspective. Easier said than done you say! The late Warren Bennis, University Professor and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California says in his book, On Becoming A Leader, “If knowing yourself and being yourself were as easy to do as to talk about, there wouldn’t be nearly so many people walking around in borrowed postures, spouting secondhand ideas, trying desperately to fit in rather than to stand out.” My work with my clients is helping them identify what is most important to them, and to become more of who they are, so that they can make the maximum contribution in every area of their life.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the author of Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience, genuinely happy individuals are few and far between. He asks us to think about how many people we know who really enjoy what they do and are reasonably satisfied with their lot, who do not regret the past, and look to the future with confidence. Probably, not very many! In Simon Sinek’s  TED-talk, Why Leaders Eat Last, I believe the following statement captures the heart of the problem for many of us business people; “In business we give bonuses to people who are willing to sacrifice others so they can survive.” This truly begs the question, how can we humans be happy if at the end of the day we are hurting others and ourselves? Put another way, why are we not doing more to help ourselves and others? Sound too touchy-feely? It should, and that’s because our bodies and brains have been designed to do things that make us feel good.

Our bodies contain certain chemicals which are there for the sole purpose of our survival and making us feel good. Again I fear, that many of the activities of our lives; work and relationships, are actually depleting and do not enhance our human experience. You probably have heard of  some of these biological chemicals:

  • Endorphins – the chemical released in the body which reduces pain.
  • Dopamine – regulates movement and emotional responses, and it enables us not only to see rewards, but to take action to move toward them.
  • Serotonin – the chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.
  • Oxytocin – the chemical released in our body when we feel trust, love, safety and empathy in the presence of a person whom your body senses is safe, as well as enabling feelings of  bonding.

The reason for discussing these chemicals is to remind us that we are so much more than what we do, and so much more about who we are and how we are wired biologically and neurologically. I think we have to ask ourselves on a regular basis the important question, are the activities of work, family, and friends allowing us to experience those “happy-chemicals”?

Have you ever thought about the connection between working in a healthy environment and the impact it has on your psychological and physical health? According to a recent study by Stanford Graduate School of Business, workplace stress — such as long hours, job insecurity and lack of work-life balance, contributes to at least 120,000 deaths each year and accounts for up to $190 billion in health care costs! According to Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business and one of the authors of the study, “When people like their lives, and that includes work life, they will do a better job of taking care of themselves. When they don’t like their lives, they don’t.” To paraphrase, when we don’t like our jobs, our lives and our health fall apart!

Recently I had the opportunity to have lunch with a former associate I’ll call Jim, and inquired as to how he felt he was doing in his career. Sadly, I heard what many of my colleagues and friends seem to be experiencing; their bosses are either unable to talk about development and growth opportunities, or worse, their bosses show no interest in their associates careers. Author and consultant Patrick Lencioni calls this “abdication management.” The most troubling part of Jim’s situation is that he is a millennial and has only been in the workplace for a few years, and has already grown cynical towards management. I encouraged Jim to talk with others about his interests and even do a little soul-searching, and begin defining his values, purpose, and goals in life. As I said earlier, if we find ourselves going through the motions (only doing), including “punching-the-clock” at work, we are not  going to be effective in our jobs, and we will never feel those life-giving happy chemicals which are so fundamental to our human experience. We need to be in environments which support and allow us to be fully human.

My own journey to authenticity has not been easy. I can think of many occasions where people have misjudged my motives, questioned my actions, but this will always be the result of living a life where you are not thinking so much about what others think of you, but asking yourself, am I being honest and true with myself? It is in this place where our relationships with others move to a different level, and ultimately we begin to experience the kind of life that is centered on life-giving activities, rather than life-depleting activities.  Just this week over lunch with a friend, we talked at about a tragic event in this person’s life — the anniversary falling on this Mothering Sunday. Our friendship could be seen as quite unlikely, because on paper we couldn’t be more different; different ethnicity, thirty-plus age difference, different nationalities. We have become close friends because of the intentional authenticity on both our parts. As we talked about this event, my friend was moved to tears and neither one of us felt any embarrassment, but rather experienced those feelings of empathy, love and connection. As Brendon Bouchard author of The Motivation Manifesto says so eloquently, “We learn that the more we are true to ourselves, the more we can connect and contribute to the world. We find that the more free and spontaneous and authentic we become, the more our motivation and aliveness returns and the more others are attracted to us and want to be around us. I’m reminded and encouraged to embrace the words of the musical artist Sting, “Be yourself no matter what they say.”

The Power of Intention

IntentionYou may recall this saying from Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” What I have found to be true for many of us, is that we may have goals and aspirations, but we often miss the opportunities to be intentional in many areas of our lives — especially in our professional and interpersonal relationships. When I use the word intentional, think of words like deliberate, calculated, conscious, purposeful, which are all words of action and purpose. I think what Yogi Berra is saying is, living a life without intention, is a life lived without purpose or direction. As an executive and life coach, one of my objectives is to help my clients articulate their goals, priorities, and the vision they have for their organization or their lives. This is where the power of intention becomes palpable and tangible. Until we begin writing down our goals and priorities, we are in ‘wish’ mode, (it’s a start); but once we can see these goals in black and white, or we can talk them through with another person, we have moved to the mindset of intentionality.

Here are some suggestions to get you started on the road to discovering the Power of Intention:

  • Ask yourself with complete honesty if you have or are making a difference in the world! This question need not overwhelm you; you are taking the time to reflect on yourself and how you are caring first for yourself, and secondly, how you are impacting those around you. My personal journey into coaching is a result of such personal reflection. I frequently receive  a calls from colleagues, clients, and friends beginning with these words, ‘You are first person I want to share this with…”When those around you want to share their successes with you, you have become someone they trust and someone they consider a cheerleader and a believer in you! Similarly, if you regularly receive kind words and compliments from those around you, take note of this — it is a reflection of how you make others feel about themselves. Corporations and organizations everywhere could stand to promote behaviors and practices that foster cultures where people are encouraged to make a difference.
  • Write down a list of your priorities and identify if how you are spending your time matches those priorities. Last summer I attempted to ride my son’s single speed bike up a steep hill by Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach, CA. It became painfully apparent to me that I wasn’t in any kind of physical condition to achieve this goal. I decided at that time that I needed to do something about that. So upon returning from our vacation, I purchased my own single speed bicycle and have made it an almost daily activity to ride my bike for about ten minutes around my neighborhood. One year later, I was able to navigate to the top of that same steep hill in Newport Beach from Pacific Coast Highway with success. I became aware, that if my health and fitness were incredibly important to me, then I had to become intentional about making exercise a priority.
  • Resolve to begin living life with a new sense of purpose. Another way to say this is, get to know your true self. As Robert S. Kaplan of Harvard Business School says of staying true to oneself as a leader, “ A business career is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’ve adopted a leadership style that doesn’t suit your skills, values, and personality, you’ll wear down”. This hopefully rings true for all of us professionally and personally. When I work with clients, we engage in a Socratic dialog — a back-and-forth discussion which leads to ‘aha’ or ‘eureka’ moments. You can begin this journey yourself by taking personality assessments such as discprofile.com or strengths assessments like strengthfinder.com. You may want to go further to understand and test ihhp.com your emotional intelligence quotient. The power of intention, as it relates to your personal development will serve as jet-fuel in both living a life of purpose and getting to know your true self. Almost 10 years ago, I wrote a short paper (50 pages) titled People Strategies – People at the Strategic Center. As I look back over the topics I covered, I realize that this was more of journal or personal manifesto of how I wanted to lead the teams I managed, build a culture of high performance and teamwork, mentoring and coaching, employee engagement, and developing people and leaders. During this process, it became crystal clear to me what I stood for and believed to be most important to me professionally and personally. Recently I struck up a relationship with an internationally recognized keynote speaker and author, as I was curious about the revolutionary concepts this person presented. A few months into this relationship I shared the aforementioned document with this individual and they wrote the following in response; ”I hope your organization recognizes what they have in you. I have met hundreds of executives in my career and few demonstrate the courage and integrity that comes through so loud and clear in our conversations and you’re writing. Thank you for sharing David!”Reading those words right now serves as reminder to me to continue to live a life of intentional purpose, and being true to oneself!

This installment on the Power of Intention reflects an analysis of any individual who has lived their lives as difference-makers. They have made a difference, perhaps changed the world, because they were people of intention.

Give the Gift of Listening Well

Have you ever taken the time to reflect on an enjoyable conversation? It is very likely that if and when you have had the pleasure of such a conversation, it is because both individuals are listening intently to the other. I was recently reminded by a speaker that, people living in the twenty-first century are the most overly stimulated and distracted at any time in human history. This implies that we are extremely busy and preoccupied, and frequently distracted when we spend time with others.

Recently I found myself eavesdropping on a few conversations at my local coffee shop. What has struck me about some of these interactions are a) the participants do not appear to be enjoying the others company, b) the tone can be tense and somewhat frantic, and c) each person walks away with a ‘look’ of dissatisfaction or ambivalence.I have a sense that these kinds of interactions are far too common place which I believe are a direct result of our inability to give ourselves completely to others – to be present – in conversation or otherwise. I recently listened to a group engaged in such an interaction, and noticed that they did not seem the least bit interested in what each person had to say, but rather were looking for openings where they could ‘throw in their two cents’! Why would anyone choose to spend their time in such an unrewarding way? Do you want to have a conversation with someone who isn’t listening? Emphatically no! Listening well requires us to be genuinely interested in what the person we are speaking with has to say.

For several years, I have come to believe that the most important communication skill, is the ability to listen well. Think for a minute why relationships end, or wars start, or the source of conflict in the workplace; is it not true that one party fails to understand or ‘hear’ what the other is saying or even chooses deliberately not to listen? Most people who consider themselves to have achieved some level of success in their relationships recognize that this ability to listen well is the lubricant of healthy relationships. And yet I am not aware of any school or university that teaches children and young people the importance of learning this major life skill. Many of us do not learn this personally until we are sitting across from a therapist trying to understand what went wrong with a partner or our children. Or equally confounding is when a supervisor is providing feedback which doesn’t match our version of things – an indication that one of the two parties has not heard the same thing. I recall coaching a client who was adamant that the contents of her disciplinary action was ‘completely inaccurate’. Clearly another example of the inability of two individuals to communicate and listen well to each other.

As I reflect on this important life skill, I am reminded that some people make it more difficult than others for us to practice this skill. During the holidays, we may find ourselves pushed to our emotional limits which leaves next-to-nothing in our self-control reservoirs. It is this emotional intelligence skill which we need to draw on, so that we can choose how we will interact with those close to us in those moments when we are challenged to listen well. According to Mary Mitchell, author of Class Acts: How Good Manners Create Good Relationships and Good Relationships Create Good Business,  “Listening not only shows respect and consideration for another human being, but is the first step to truly understanding their concerns, needs, and wants.”

As you approach the holidays, fully recognizing that we may find ourselves squeezed in many ways, I believe that we can experience very enjoyable conversations with others if we can apply a few principles to our listening.Try the following: Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

  • Use Empathy vs. Sympathy
  • Suspend Judgement 
  • Don’t Interrupt
  • Tolerate Silence
  • Experience the Total Message
  • Ask Open-Ended Questions
  • Show That You’re Listening
  • Remember Why Listening is Important

Why I Love Peter Drucker – The Timeless Business Prophet

Lessons+In+Mentorship+From+Peter+Drucker

What an amazing coincidence that a week ago I had the idea to write about the great Peter Drucker. Today, I took my collection of his books from my library and opened his classic and seminal work, The Practice of Management published in 1954. Inside I found his obituary I cut from the Los Angeles Times, dated Saturday, November 12, 2005! Undoubtably, Peter Drucker has articulated some of the most cogent and profound thoughts on business. I think he probably said it best when asked about the focus of his work, “I looked at people, not at machines or buildings.” It is the norm to think that people fall into the ‘soft’ side of business, and the matters of finance, process, strategy, and operations are the most important. This is precisely why I can say that I ‘love’ Peter Drucker.  He validates the idea, which is to recognize that without elevating the role of people, you may begin to focus wrongly on machines or buildings! Once you recognize that any and everything accomplished is a result of human effort, one is able to see the profound truth of Druckers’ statement; “ Only superior management competence and continuously improved management performance can keep us progressing, can prevent our becoming smug, self-satisfied and lazy.”

So why is Peter Drucker such an influence on my thinking?  He passed away almost 14 years ago and a few days today. I think I love Peter Drucker because he reminds me every time of what is most important for any business “…a business enterprise is created and managed by people. It is not managed by ‘forces’. It is my sense that most businesses get lost in the ‘complexities’ of business and fail to realize that we are always simply dealing with people. That said, people are not simple – we must have a laser-like focus on the needs and concerns of people. And equally important is a clear recognition that, “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.” Drucker is the 20th century’s most prominent management thinker and one of its great social philosophers. I’m a huge fan of folks such as Edgar Schein, Patrick Lencioni, Gary Hamel, Bob Sutton, Dan Pink, Daniel Goleman, all whom I thoroughly recommend, but Drucker seems to cover so many topics and disciplines in his very unique way.

In his writing you will find a management and leadership expert, innovation strategist, organizational culture sage, and operational excellence proponent. “To emphasize only profit, for instance, misdirects managers to the point where they may endanger the survival of the business. To obtain profit today they tend to undermine the future.” You won’t find trendy or frivolous fads in his writing, only tried-and-true, time tested advice and ideas. “Management must with every decision make provision for molding the future as far as possible toward the predicted shape of things to come.” When I think about the climate of most organizations, and the slew of engagement surveys which conclude far too often that our workplaces are unhappy places, it is powerfully profound statements like the following which we need to reflect on and seriously consider; “A mean spirit in the organization will produce mean managers, a great spirit great managers. A major requirement in managing managers is therefore the creation of the right spirit in the organization. He further goes on to say that managers are either guided in the right direction or are misdirected, and he lets us know where your organization is on the effectiveness continuum.    “Every business enterprise has either an effective or an ineffective organization structure; but it has an organization structure. It has either a spirit that killeth or one that giveth life. People are always being developed. The only choice is whether they are to be developed equal to their potential and to tomorrow’s demands or are to be misdeveloped.

I was first introduced to Peter Drucker by a friend who’s MBA professor was a Drucker fan. Upon being handed the book, The Practice of Management – The Study of The Most Important Function in American Society, and reading for the first time, “ A manager’s job should be based on a task to be performed in order to attain the company’s objectives. It should always be a real job – one that makes a visible and, if possible, clear measurable contribution to the success of the enterprise… the manager should be directed and controlled by the objectives of performance rather than by his boss.” I have seen so many positions in many organizations which quite frankly seem useless. Perhaps at some time the need may have been real, however, today the scope of the  job does not embody a significant challenge, significant responsibility or significant contribution. Drucker puts it this way, ‘The manager should be able to point at the final results of the entire business and say: “This part is my contribution.” I think many managers would be hard pressed to point directly to their contribution, but managers need to, because their team is really only concerned with the bosses’ contribution. Drucker is right because he orients leaders to focus on what is most important; “It’s the abilities, not the disabilities, that count.” Gallup StrengthsFinder is all about reorienting our focus on building on what we do well. When I work with teams that are experiencing disharmony and dysfunction, I will point them to focus on the strengths that exist within the team. “Nothing destroys the spirit of an organization faster than focusing on people’s weaknesses rather than their strengths.” My goal as an executive coach, is to create an atmosphere or spirit that focuses people on the organizations performance and the individuals contribution.

As I reflect further on why I love Peter Druckers’ work, it is chapters in this book such as; The Objective of a Business, The Spirit of an Organization, The Ford Story, Management by Objectives and Self-Control, Developing Managers, Employing the Whole Man, Is Personnel Management Bankrupt, and The Manager and His Work; which will convince the reader that his ideas were and are, way ahead of his time. His wisdom and insights are so needed today, because in so many ways the corporate world has lost its way, especially when we think about how people are consistently mismanaged. When you read his writings, he always serves to remind us, always eloquently, of what matters most. Or as Andrew S.Grove co-founder of Intel Corp said, “Unlike many philosophers, he spoke in a plain language that resonated with ordinary managers.” Drucker, called the Father of Modern Management cared deeply about people, because they are the ‘lifeblood of any organization.’ He describes the kind of workplace culture which we all desire; “the simplest practice is one that says in effect to all managers: the spirit of this organization is the business of every one of us. Find out what you are doing to build the right spirit in the unit you head and tell us, in higher management, what we can do to build the right spirit in the unit of which you are part.” In 21st century vernacular, it is appropriate to say that Peter Drucker rocks!

How to Hire the Right Person – Ensure that the new blood is the desired blood

Everyone says it, and I believe most leaders believe that, the people on your team are your most valuable and strategic resource. There is no doubt in my mind as I look at the organization I have worked for, and the organizations I have consulted with that many hiring decisions do not include the kind of process that goes beyond compliance to job requirements. Most human resource departments provide interviewing techniques and guidelines which focus exclusively on canned questions, which is fine for ascertaining if the candidate has the relevant job experience and skills. What is missing from this standardized approach is a systematic approach which allows one to discern if the candidate is the right ‘cultural fit’ for the job.This idea has been talked about for many years and there some organizations like W.L. Gore & Associates, Mars, Zappos, Patagonia, and Google to name a few, who only hire candidates whose values and behaviors appear congruent with their organizational culture.Unfortunately, too few organizations do this and many times end up with individuals who are a bad fit.

So how does an organization ensure that it isn’t simply going through the motions when hiring new employees but rather, has determined what are the ‘non-negotiables’, beyond qualifications, for new associates. According to RoundPegg, an organizational culture research consultancy, “Hiring people whose values match company values should be one of the top competencies of an organization committed to a high performance culture. The biggest lever you have at your disposal to align the company is to ensure that the new blood is the desired blood.” This belief and practice is truly what separates a highly effective organization from a mediocre or poor performing one. What is really unfortunate about these organizations, is that they are stuck in a downward spiral with no plan to break the cycle.The reasons for this could be; an over-emphasis on complying with rigid hiring practices, a ‘fetish-like’ desire for particular qualifications or pedigree (only hiring candidates who have graduated from elite universities), or a homogenous approach where diversity of thought is not valued. Any of these approaches will not allow for bringing new team members who are going to take your organization to the next level of performance – which I believe is what you want every time when hiring a new associate.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with C.L. Max Nikias, President of University of Southern California. During our discussion he mentioned that the major accomplishments and successes of his organization could be credited to his excellent leadership team. Further, he stated that the people on his team are the most important asset, which triggered my question, what qualities and characteristics are non-negotiable for his leadership team? His response was not only authentic and with his permission to share, an excellent model for hiring the right person, rather than the person who looks most qualified on paper. C.L. Max Nikias non-negotiable requirements for hiring leaders are knowledgecharacter, and judgement. I cannot recall a time in my entire career during a hiring decision or when a new hire was introduced to the organization that their ‘good character’ or ‘judgement’ was mentioned in their list qualifications! As I reflect on my time with Mr. Nikias, the following thoughts are worthy of consideration if you want hire the right people:

  • Make hiring decisions which are unequivocally beneficial for both parties. It is far too easy to hire someone who simply meets the job qualifications on paper. But qualifications won’t help when the new persons’ attitude and actions are incompatible with the values, mission, and the culture of your organization.
  • Ensure your interview panel understands that cultural fit is equally important as knowledge and expertise. Too often we take a lackadaisical approach to interviews and treat the task as just one of many tasks to complete. This approach is irresponsible and short-sited. It is imperative to step back and ask, what kinds of questions do we fail to ask that would provide a better assessment of the candidates suitability for the position?
  • Make it your highest priority to ensure that you have the right people in the right jobs. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan devote a chapter in their book Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done — “The Job No Leader Should Delegate – Having the Right People in the Right Place.” They emphasize strongly that leaders cannot delegate the process for selecting and developing people. When one finds people in the wrong jobs, it sends the message that those leaders are not personally committed or deeply engaged in the people process. Leaders are obsessive and fanatical when selecting talent.

Qualities of an Effective Executive Coach

During a recent coaching meeting with a client, I was informed that they had been exposed to two other coaches, and frankly found the experience to be less than favorable. This provoked my thinking regarding how coaches are both perceived and experienced by a coachee. The question I find myself asking is, what qualities should an executive coach have in order to be truly effective? The most comprehensive and rigorous meta-analysis of professional coaching ever conducted was just published in print, and the results are unambiguous: coaching in a business context has significant positive effects on performance and skills, well-being, coping, work attitudes, and goal-directed self-regulation.

So I am truly surprised when I speak with people regarding their own experience with a coach,  and they tell me that the person was either insensitive or possessed poor communication skills. These two things (empathy and excellent communication skills) should be very high on your list if you are thinking about or have engaged a coach. I believe that effective coaching is more about innate skills and experience, versus qualifications and certifications. The real work and development emerges from the relationship between coach and client rather than industry experience or qualifications. The following skills or qualities separate the most effective coaches from the rest:

Authenticity. 

As a coach, you must have developed a significant understanding of yourself and people to be able to understand and recommend actions and strategies related to behavioral change. To be authentic is literally to be your own author, to discover your own nature, energy, and desires, and then find your own way of acting on them. A good coach will encourage you to discover your authentic self, which is the opposite of walking around in borrowed postures, spouting second hand ideas, trying desperately to fit in rather than stand out.

Empathy

If a coach is to be effective, and by that I mean, being able to motivate another individual to recognize the need for change, and both learn and practice new behaviors, then it is crucial that they be masterful at reading emotions. That is a) able to take another persons’ perspective b) empathetic and sensitive to others feelings c) skilled at listening to others. Nothing could be worse for a coachee to find themselves with a coach who lacks these critical skills.

Thought Leadership

The best coaches live by the adage…you are your best teacher. Learning is experienced as a personal transformation. A person does not gather learnings as possessions but rather becomes a new person…to learn is not to have, it is to be. So coaches talk about and share how they have grown and changed personally rather than employing techniques and fads which are here today and largely gone tomorrow.

If you have had or are having a less than effective coaching experience, remember coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

The Certainty of Change

“The only thing that is constant is change” Heraclitus

Last week I spoke to a group of attorneys on the subject on organizational change. My presentation focused on a) change is the only constant in life and business; b) understanding the change cycle in organizations; c) as legal counsel, becoming a change catalyst will increase their effectiveness with clients.

Change is the only constant in life and business.

When the subject of change is raised in the midst of an organizational restructuring or downsizing, most people have a negative visceral reaction to the word, especially when used by senior management. Why the negative reaction? Typically the change being described sounds like people are going to be losing something…possibly their jobs. As Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linskey in their book The Practice of Adaptive Leadership say, “ People don’t resist change; they resist the loss.”

Understanding the change-cycle  in organizations.

I’d go further and say that people resist change when it is unclear what and if they  might be losing something. The vague and nebulous messages around change drives people nuts! One thing good leaders do in times of change is describe in detail what the change looks like, and how it will impact employees. Leaders who effectively talk about change do so with courage and transparency.  This type of courage and transparency was demonstrated by a former colleague when presenting his plans for a corporate wide organizational transformation. Myself and many listening were stunned by the integrity, candor and humility of the presenter. Those qualities must be evident in a leader to successfully lead and manage an organizational change initiative.

Becoming a change catalyst will increase your effectiveness with your clients

Referencing the work of Daniel Goleman in his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, I introduced the idea of becoming a trusted advisor in the organization requires one to act as a change catalyst. I also described the role of culture in organizational change efforts. Lou Gerstner is quoted to have said during IBM’s massive organizational change, “The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything.” Change catalysts must have a deeper understanding of the “way things are done around here” and the reasons for the way people think and behave. Change catalysts model the following:

  • recognize the need for change and remove barriers
  • challenge the status quo to acknowledge the need for change
  • champion the change and enlist others in the pursuit
  • model the change expected of others
  • blend of business savvy, intuition, and creativity
  • willing to be different than others
  • anticipate, identify, and address people problems
  • shows courage and emotional fortitude

My main message for the group was for them to begin to change their view of others and of themselves. Again, when we hear about changes, we often move into a state of passivity, adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude, or flatly oppose the change. It is far better to take the opportunity to embrace, understand, and lead the change. As Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”