Leading Change and Building Agile Teams
By nature, human beings tend to resist and resent change. “Keeping things exactly the way they are” feels safer and is preferred.
However, in today’s fast-paced and highly competitive marketplace, it is crucial to remain relevant. Staying relevant requires change. The gap between relevance and obsolescence grows exponentially every day. Success means changing proactively, before survival in the marketplace mandates it. In the words of General Eric Shinseki (Ret.), “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
How can you create a culture where your team embraces, rather than resists, change? Based on our work with organizations and teams from around the world, here are a few characteristics of cultures that foster agility and embrace change:
Trust Is High
Trust doesn’t happen by accident. It’s nurtured and developed by consistently doing what you say you will do. In his book Stephen Covey says, “Trust is not some soft quality that you either have or you don’t; rather trust is a pragmatic, tangible, actionable asset that you can create.” High trust teams are full of individuals who are trustworthy in their integrity, intent, capabilities and results.
Accountability Is Promoted
When being adaptable is an expectation, team members are held accountable for embracing change as it comes. It’s easy to attribute success to hard work and failure to bad luck, but agile organizations are intentional in fostering a culture of accountability. In the absence of accountability, morale takes a nose-dive and the blame game begins.
Understanding the “Why”
Associates must have a clear understanding of the desired change and what’s expected of them. An effective leader knows the direction they want to go and influences the head, hands, and heart of others to follow. If you want to influence others to embrace change, you must articulate a clear direction, provide resources, and perhaps most importantly, create an emotional connection. We believe that all motivation is self-motivation, and people do things for their own reasons, not ours.
Everyone is Committed
Commitment involves a promise to follow through on a plan of action to its conclusion. Change (and ultimately growth) requires that we move outside of our comfort zone, creating feelings of discomfort and fear. Without 100% commitment from the team on the direction you are going, it is easy for team members to disengage when faced with challenges. The basic principle is that you cannot be actively engaged in a plan you are not committed to.
In closing, executives and senior leaders play an essential role in times of change. Organizations look to leaders to lead the way on change. This means taking ownership for creating an agile culture – one that is quick to adapt when change is required.
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