It is only natural that when a leader attempts to transform an organization he or she begins by looking at surrounding problems. The leader’s thoughts might turn to “problem” employees, counterproductive policies, poor investments, or unwieldy systems. But, while these are all important aspects of cultural transformation, it is a mistake to begin with them. If you’re the leader of your organization, then transformation is a journey that can begin with only one person: you.
By becoming a leader who is willing to admit that you are not perfect and accept healthy criticism, you make a humble, yet powerful statement to your organization. Your leadership by example immediately breaks down the resistance and suspicions of those you will ask to participate in transforming your organization.
For example, we at Sterling Integrators spur transformation at the top by talking with and listening to those who are in direct contact with a leader. In a confidential and frank environment, each person offers a different perspective. By the time all of the interviews are completed a clear picture of the leader emerges. While most of the comments will be positive, there will also be critiques of the leader’s style and habits. Some criticisms will be valid. Some won’t. Next comes the challenging process of sorting out the truth.
Remember: it is crippling to obsess about our flaws and weaknesses. Instead we must humbly and courageously address them.
Do or Do Not Do, There is No Try
Ultimately, whether you change or not is up to you. It will not be easy. It will cost you time, energy, and (probably) money. You must be totally convicted and committed–and the desire must come from you, not your employees or your coach.
Why are you doing what you’re doing and why is it creating conflict in your group? Who does it seem to bother the most?
You have to choose what you will focus your energies on. This will keep you from becoming overwhelmed. Work with your coach to determine which behaviors are the most damaging to the organization and must be addressed right away.
Create a Concrete Strategy for Change
It is not enough to be aware of the behavior or even to want to change. It is imperative that you and your coach build a plan or system that will change you. Then, give your coach permission to hold you to it.
Our ways of behaving are the product of years, sometimes decades of reinforcement. To change will require the continuous efforts of you and your coach. While characters in 30 minute sitcoms may completely change in one transformative event, do not be deceived into thinking this will happen for you. True personal transformation will take significant time, but the end result will be worth the effort!