1. Embrace change
Change is a prerequisite for progress. Discomfort is necessary for growth. We hear these slogans or mantras constantly, yet organizations and institutions are steadfast on maintaining the status quo and resisting change. Why?
According to Gartner, data shows that only 50% of change initiatives achieve their desired outcomes. Change is a risk most companies can’t afford. Yet, the companies that draw the learning curve for their competition are most likely to win so most companies can’t afford not to change either. So, what happens? They freeze, they stay in their comfort zone and their growth stifles.
This highlights the importance of building an organizational culture of agility. Instead of change management being a function of the organization, it should be a fundamental core value. Agility must be built into every process. Change is the only constant so why shouldn’t it be at the core of each decision we make?
When we work with organizations, we evaluate the norms that present the greatest risk to successful change and how that resistance will present itself in the marketplace. By helping companies see that change management is a form of risk management, we have seen them increase their investment into building a culture of agility resulting change becoming the new comfort zone.
2. Treat people differently
Many of us were taught about the different treatment of people throughout history and made equality the gold standard. We even have a “golden” rule that says we should treat others the way we want to be treated. However, that means we project our standards, expectations, and norms onto others and force them to accept our rules as their own. Each person deserves the agency to establish their own rules of engagement with others.
Do not treat people how you want to be treated, show them the courtesy of learning how they want to be treated, why they want to be treated that way, how their life experiences shape their perspective, and then create systems that are designed with those considerations in mind. This is another reason a culture of agility is necessary; it creates room to treat each person with the flexibility they deserve.
There is a great book on this topic that I recommend to all new managers: “First, Break All the Rules” from Gallup.
3. Set boundaries and encourage others to do the same
Research shows that workplace stress accounts for 8% of national healthcare spending. Much of the stress in the workplace comes from the inability to set healthy boundaries. Technology has made us more accessible than ever before, which means we are connected to our work 24/7. This is especially for executives and entrepreneurs. When we coach leaders we coach them as whole people with mental health considerations, family obligations, and conflicting responsibilities beyond the business. The reason we do this is because nothing exists within a silo. The challenges we face at home follow us into the workplace. For far too long we have asked parents to give their best at work and accept giving their families the leftovers when they get home. The result? Increased divorce rates, increased suicide rates among our youth, decreased academic performance, and overall decrease in satisfaction.
More leaders need to lead by example and set boundaries. Boundaries include not responding to emails afterhours, taking vacations every year, and speaking up when work deadlines conflict with life outside of work.
Work puts food on the table, work-life balance ensures the people around that table feel valued, and what happens at your dinner table is more important than what happens at the boardroom table.
4. Leaders encourages healthy conflict
We have an exercise we have performed with tens of thousands of leaders around the world that highlights the breakdown in communication that often leads to conflict. It goes like this:
After we perform this exercise, we ask them to return to their seats and reflect on the following questions:
What is the ultimate takeaway from this exercise? We barely change our minds, so we should have more patience when others resist doing the same. We are susceptible to listening to people who already agree with us, so we need to be intentional about finding different perspectives. The other takeaway is that conflict is a driver of engagement. How many business leaders do we hear saying they want people to go above and beyond? Well, people are more likely to go above and beyond when they feel their work has an opportunity to drive change in the minds of others. This further supports the need for leaders to embrace change.
If you are a leader of an organization looking to personally grow in any of these areas or help members of your team grow in these areas, we have coaching and training available for you. Visit here and reach out to us to learn more.