Welcome the Rise of PROGRESS Leadership
By Dean Lindsay
The business term “change management” has been around for a good long while. The term relates to “initiating significant change” within an organization’s processes. This change can include anything from altering work culture to embracing diversity to modifying an individual’s work tasks to increasing company morale and loyalty. The goal of “initiating significant change” is solid, but the focus of “change management” or “change agent” is backwards. In this challenging business climate, it takes more than the title of supervisor, manager, or “change agent” to truly lead people in the direction of progress.
I see an important connection between sales, motivation, solid customer care and leadership. All are achieved by effectively positioning ideas, recommendations, solutions, products, services – even ourselves – as Progress in the minds of those we wish to inspire to action. All must be positioned as Progress and NOT Change. It is natural to resist change, but we embrace Progress. All progress is change but not all change is Progress. The problem with the term “change management” is that no one really desires to change or plans to change. We desire and plan to progress. We do not want managers to manage our change. We want leaders to lead our progress.
Let’s move the focus of “initiating significant change” from “change management” to what it should be: Progress Leadership. Progress leadership means working to understand and communicate how a team member’s personal goals can dovetail with the organization’s goals and thus create true commitment that gets the team member to act – because he or she wants to, not because they have to. Progress Leadership means striving to help others find meaning in their work.
In a time of continual transformation, committed business leaders – Progress Agents – should focus on inspiring the progress, not apologizing for the change. Progress Agents don’t just TELL people what to do. Progress Agents include others in the progress as well as the process.
It is reasons that shape, nourish, and sustain the thoughts that create the actions necessary to reach desired results. As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince wrote, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
Companies are most successful at “initiating significant change” when the reasons to act connect personally with the individual employees making the alteration in behavior. If the reasons don’t connect with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely change and will be resisted or at least not acted on. Team members may still physically clock in but have often mentally checked out.
Dale Carnegie wrote his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People way back in 1936, and its wisdom is no less true and vibrantly powerful today. The book is packed with insight on leading and building strong relationships by lifting people up, making them feel good, and “spurring people on to success.” Wisely, the book is not called How to Lift People Up and Make Them Feel Good or How to Spur People on to Success. No, Carnegie’s classic is appropriately titled: How to Win Friends and Influence People. And who is doing the winning? It’s you and me, along with the person being lifted up, made to feel good, and spurred on to success (read: influenced and led).
In his book, Mr. Carnegie encourages us to, among other things: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests, respect others’ opinions, try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view, and try to make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest. In other words, genuinely care about people and their feelings.
But Mr. Carnegie’s classic does not only encourage us to take these actions for the benefit of the people we are respecting and “making happy.” The book doesn’t even make the argument that it is even morally right to care about people’s feelings (although I am sure Mr. Carnegie would agree that it is). No, the book simply makes the clear case that caring about others’ feelings is good for the person (or company) who cares.
Companies are formed by people (humans) partnering to get their wants and needs met by helping other people (humans) get their wants and needs met. Leaders who do not take the individual into account and do not plan for the human side of Progress often find themselves scratching their heads about where their plans went wrong. Welcome the rise of Progress Leadership!
Looking For Mutually Beneficial Solutions
By Zig Ziglar
Every problem has a solution, but the best solutions are always mutually beneficial. Howard Putnam in his book, The Winds of Turbulence, tells this story. Baylor Hospital in Dallas had a major problem. They could not get enough nurses who were willing to work over week-ends because they wanted to be with their families. But the leadership recognized that there were also a number of nurses, particularly those who had young children, who wanted to be with their children during the week so they could spend as much time with them as possible. In most cases, married nurses had husbands who worked a Monday-through-Friday schedule. Single mothers had an even greater need to be with their children as much as possible, so the thinking was very simple: Can we meet the needs of all these nurses?
Leadership then asked the question, How can we help these mothers get what they want? How can we help the full-time nurses get what they want? The solution, as Mr. Putnam points out, was so obvious; one wonders why it took them so long to come up with the answer. Here’s what they did: Since week-end work is generally considered overtime, they decided to make Saturday and Sunday twelve-hour shifts for a total of 24 hours of duty. They paid these nurses for a full 40-hour week, so those nurses were elated to be able to get that kind of duty. On the other hand, the nurses who simply did not want to work overtime or week-ends were elated that they could maintain their normal schedule. This truly was a win/win situation. The week-end nurses won, the full-time nurses won, but the hospital and patients were also big winners.
That’s leadership at its best. The message is clear: Examine your alternatives; explore what the problem might be and ask yourself the question, is the solution in the problem? In many cases it is. Think about it. Take that creative step and I’ll SEE YOU AT THE TOP!
Step out and be a leader!
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