Brighton Leadership Group

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Talk Is Cheap

Last week’s tip talked about a process for sharing change news. This week we’re tackling what happens after the news is shared. This is the “make it or break it” opportunity for leaders.
One of the most successful ways of encouraging others to change is to be an avatar or example of the change. You can create all the training, messages or showy presentations to explain a change. However, talk is cheap, action speaks.
During times of change, it’s easy to overlook the definition and practice of the key behaviors that will lead to change. It’s like telling everyone that they are going to work more collaboratively because of a newly designed workspace….and then hiding out in your office.
For the record we worked with an enlightened CIO who modeled the behavior he wanted others to emulate in an open working environment. He gave up his office, held meetings in the open space and was regularly seen interacting with teams. It created a huge shift in the organizational culture and behavior since he modeled the change.
Three things to consider when leading others through change:

  1. Are the change behaviors defined as part of the change outcome? It’s easy to define the results, it’s a lot more challenging to get clear on the behaviors required to get to the outcomes. Make the time to be clear on what it’s going to take to achieve the outcome you truly want.
  2. Have you identified, celebrated and rewarded people who exemplify the change? You get more of what you pay attention to! That’s why it helpful to correct things that aren’t going well but even more beneficial to celebrate success. People don’t change because they are nagged.
  3. What behaviors do you need to change yourself so that you are congruent with the change? This is the principle of monkey see, monkey do. More elegantly put, people believe and behave according to what they see not what they hear. If your actions are in conflict with the change you are telling others to make, you lose credibility and persuade no one to change!

From the boardroom to the bedroom, talk is cheap. You cannot lead anyone to change if you are unwilling to change yourself and be an example of the change you wish to see in others.

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