Leadership and Change

Nothing ever stays the same. Change is a constant of life.

And while the last half century has heralded unimaginable, breathtaking, and exciting advances in technology, despite the many positives, especially in the fields of human resource management and strategic planning, once-healthy organizations are experiencing challenges leadership seems powerless to successfully address and overcome.

This article outlines a different kind of strategic planning, one which enrolls the organization’s entire constituency, enabling the participation of stakeholders in conversations for possibilities. 

This planning model encourages organizations to leave their baggage behind, create new opportunity to dream of, and document the "what could be", consistent with the organization's vision.

Strategic Future

Despite best intensions, strategic planning exercises sometimes fizzle out without producing desired results, leaving participants disillusioned and reluctant to re-engage…or worse.

Sound familiar? 

Fortunately, there is a better way - one which begins in the future, includes the setting of outrageous goals, and which is characterized by different terminology.

For example, a description of an organization’s future reality might include:

  • the organization's new being is a fully integrated, highly recognized and respected organization representing the interests of all its members.

And a description of the strategic outcomes of that future reality might read:

  • the leadership team becomes complete with its past as it was known it to be, honouring all that has been accomplished, with respect and dignity.
  • the leadership team transforms into a newly integrated, high-performance team which develops guiding principles and practices, demonstrating unprecedented abilities for teamwork, communications, management, and planning.
  • this newly integrated leadership team shifts from a reactive, fly by the seat of its pants culture, to being a well orchestrated and managed team, employing the competence, excellence, and mastery of all team members.
  • the newly integrated leadership team develops an actionable, dynamic strategic plan, formulated collectively, communicated powerfully, demonstrating implementation day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.
  • the newly integrated leadership team restores the relationship with its constituencies in such a way that new conversations for possibilities, opportunities and action emerge.
  • the newly integrated leadership team designs and *enrolls its entire constituency into its new beginning and its organizational culture, committing to complete integration, collaboration, and co-operation, effectively creating a forward-thinking network of conversations.

Note: * "enrollment" is defined as generating a possibility in another person's listening, such that the other person, group, or organization takes action consistent with that possibility.

Note also, this approach starts in the future - at the end pointand works backward to the presentIn other words, the leadership team creates the organization’s strategic future, transports itself there and documents the action plan that got it there.

Not rocket-science, but hard to do

The process is difficult because of the tendency to hold on to what is known to be, what works, and what doesn’t work. And because there is no shortage of past experiences, and because of a lack of sufficient trust and a collective vision, truly committing to a strategic future does not happen easily.

Using this methodology, conversations take place against a background of relatedness, either for possibility, to identify opportunity, to specify action, or to resolve breakdowns.

With this model, the leadership team redefines its business, and commits to, and documents:

  • its strategic intent (e.g., “the leadership team leads the transformation of the organization into one which is recognized and respected as being world class”)
  • its strategic purpose (e.g., “the organization outperforms on every expectation”)
  • a bold promise of what the organization will be in 5 years (the new being)

For example, if the organization's strategic purpose was - “within 3 years we outperform on every expectation”, the leadership team would document:

  • what that would look like and feel like, and,
  • what each member of the team would need to do to make that happen 

Using this strategic planning model, planning is everything; the plan is nothing…

Traditional Approach

New Methodology


-free for all

-long range planning

-real-time execution

-protect products, market, channels


-predict the future

-shape or adapt to the future

-detailed action plan

-management options

-formal alliances

-web or informal alliances

-aversion to failure

-failure expected

-constrained by financial resources

-constrained by time



-focused on retention

-focused on recruitment

Strategy Development

Strategic planning in most organizations doesn’t really matter anymore. Yes, the process often consumes an enormous amount of time and produces reams of data, but rarely does it drive top leadership's decisions or an organization's overall strategy.


For starters, the model most organizations use for strategy development is not well aligned with the way top leaders make decisions. Strategy development in most large organizations is a “batch” process. Market and competitor information is first analyzed, threats and opportunities are identified, and then a multiyear plan is defined.

This process usually takes place annually in strict accordance with a predetermined planning calendar. Strategic decision making, by contrast, happens continuously, is often driven by an immediate need for action, and does not conform easily to a preset schedule.

Ultimately, strategic planning can’t have an impact if it doesn’t drive decision making.

And it can’t drive decision making as long as it remains periodic, and calendar based. Thus, the key to making strategy development matter is to focus on continuously identifying and addressing the strategic issues that can most affect the organization’s value.

Why traditional strategy development fails

The batch model for strategy development has at least two major shortcomings.

1. Time: In many organizations, the planning process does not afford leadership sufficient time to address the issues and opportunities that most affect performance. Many issues, particularly those spanning multiple businesses which cross geographic boundaries, or which involve entire business systems, cannot be resolved effectively in a three or four-month planning window. As a result, top leadership does not use the strategic planning process to address these complex problems. They turn instead to some other process for guidance and make their most difficult strategy decisions outside the planning cycle.

2. Timing: Even when the time allotted for strategy development is sufficient to make tough decisions, the timing of the process often creates problems. Markets and competitors are dynamic and new threats and opportunities emerge that cannot possibly be predicted in a traditional strategic plan. When these arise, top leaders can’t wait until the next planning cycle to take action. They must act quickly to safeguard the organization’s performance.

A continuous strategy model

Leading organizations recognize the weakness of traditional strategy development and employ an entirely different model for strategy development and execution - one in which assessment and action are under continual review.

For example, the strategy development process is organized around a strategy agenda which lists the issues and opportunities that top leadership believes must be addressed for the organization to deliver superior performance. Some issues are broad; others are narrower. But every issue on the strategy agenda has a direct, measurable impact on the organization’s intrinsic value and therefore must be addressed as part of the strategy development process.

Once the top leadership team agrees on a strategy agenda, team members establish clear accountabilities and milestones for resolving each item.

One member of the team is made responsible for ensuring that a particular issue on the strategy agenda is addressed in a timely and effective manner. Unambiguous decision timetables are established for each issue, specifying when the team will make a final decision. This process drives high quality decision making and accelerates the pace of strategy development and execution, creating a sense of urgency.

The continuous strategy development model differs from traditional strategy making in two fundamental ways:

1.different outputs

The output of strategic planning has traditionally been a strategic plan. The outputs of continuous strategy development are quite different. Under a continuous approach, strategy isn’t a plan; rather, it's a direction for the organization and an agenda of issues and opportunities to drive change in that direction. This process focuses top leadership on what matters most - setting the right strategic direction - and allows decisions to be considered in the context of that direction, in real time.

The notion that strategy is something that can be planned well in advance and then executed is out of step with our rapidly changing world. Since no top leader, not even the most brilliant strategist is clairvoyant, strategic development today should produce not a plan but a direction and an agenda.

2. clearer accountabilities

Ironically, as elaborate as most traditional strategy development processes are, they establish few real accountabilities. No one individual can be held responsible for ensuring a multiyear strategic plan is effectively executed. Even if everything were to go according to plan, most top leaders move on before any multiyear plan can be realized, and few control all elements of plan implementation during their tenure.

While leaders can’t be held accountable for carrying out a multiyear strategic plan, they can be held accountable for addressing key strategic issues.

Each item on the strategy agenda should have an individual accountable for addressing it, along with a timetable for its resolution. At the end of the year, if an issue remains on the agenda, that is, if no decision has been reached and no action taken, top leadership can incorporate this fact into its evaluation of the appropriate leader’s performance.

Because accountabilities are clearer under a continuous strategy development model than under traditional strategic planning, this approach frequently accelerates the pace of strategic decision making and thus fuels value growth. Many top leaders have grown skeptical of strategic planning. Is it any wonder? After all, if the purpose of strategy development isn’t to drive an organization's strategy, then what is its purpose? And if driving an organization’s strategy isn’t about influencing top leadership’s decisions, then what is it about?

For strategy development to be worthwhile, the traditional development process needs to be redesigned to focus, not on developing a static plan, but on continuously addressing the issues and opportunities which will have the greatest impact on long-term value for shareholders and other stakeholders.

Great Teams: It’s all about trust

Does your team perform at or near its full capability? Does it achieve its objectives, producing measurable results? Is the team a “real” team and do team members enjoy working together? Do team members communicate well together, and does it behave as a united, harmonious group? Has the team discussed and agreed to a clear vision, a defined mission, and well articulated goals?

If so, congratulations - you are a member of a great team!

 Five characteristics of great teams:

1. Trust: When team members really trust each other, they feel comfortable with each other; no individual feels threatened or vulnerable. Each member of the team feels respected, honoured and valued.

2. No fear of conflict: When team members feel comfortable with each other, able to challenge each other’s views as they seek to genuinely understand each other’s opinions, motivations and feelings, they have no fear and they are able to discuss and resolve issues effectively and efficiently.

3. Commitment: Absent fear of conflict, criticism or retribution, team members resolve issues readily, ultimately supporting and committing powerfully to action plans.

4. Accountability: Given unwavering commitment, team members readily assume responsibility and accountability for their words and actions, always in the best interests of the team.

5. Achievement: When the interests of the team are foremost in the minds of team members, overall team results take precedence over individual interests, driving teamwork and the achievement of team results.

 Leadership versus management

Great teams don't happen without great leadership and great management. Leadership inspires, whereas management explains what is expected and measures results. Leadership guides, whereas management navigates, explaining the who, what, why, where and how of things. Leadership provides hope, whereas management analyses performance, communicating with and motivating the team. Leadership is visionary, able to describe the future, whereas management maintains a steady course towards desired goals and objectives. Leadership rallies the team to do what’s right, whereas management identifies issues and solves problems.

Leadership and management are clearly complementary; both are required for great team performance...but leadership always trumps management.

Transformational Leaders

Traditional leaders say:  I'm the leader - you're the follower; I have something you need, and you have something I need. So, let's make an exchange.

Transformational leaders understand there is something bigger at stake. Transformational leaders not only challenge their organization to grow professionally, but also emotionally and intellectually - transformation leaders empower others.

Within this different paradigm, there are four human needs the transformational leader recognizes must be satisfied if they and the organization are to succeed:

First - the need to love and be loved. That sounds touchy-feely, but people who are not receiving and giving love (focused concern and action directed at another exclusively for that person's good) cannot be fully healthy, biologically, and psychologically. We usually think of love as being irrelevant in today’s fast paced busy world, but the transformational leader vividly understands tough-minded caring is essential to leading and developing a powerful, fully expressed organization.

Second - the need to grow. The only alternative to growth is decline and decay. The transformational leader recognizes balance or equilibrium is a myth that exists only in the human imagination. Nowhere in nature is there such a thing as stability. Even in a balanced ecosystem, there is either expanding, unfolding growth, or degeneration, decay and ultimately death. By creating a culture which allows our organization to grow, we are expanding our capacity both as leaders and members of that organization.

Third - the need to contribute. This need may be described as having two distinct poles. The negative pole reminds us - that which does not contribute is eliminated. We see this in nature, and we all know failing to contribute in a significant way creates anxiety of which we are usually only vaguely aware. The other pole - the positive one - answers this anxiety. When we are contributing in a significant way, we have peace of mind. We know we belong. The simple principle at work is - life works when we forget about ourselves and contribute to others. To feel fulfilled and empowered, members of the organization must know they are contributing to the whole.

Fourth - the need for meaning. Humans are meaning-seeking creatures. If our lives lack a clear sense of meaning, and if we are not engaged in some larger purpose, we will not be fully satisfied, regardless of whatever else we may have.

The transformational leader understands that satisfying all four of these needs is not easy, but when they are being met in the day-to-day affairs of an organization, something magnificent happens. People instinctively play a bigger game, and they show up in a more passionate, creative, engaged, and effective way. The consequences are measurable, and in many instances, astonishing.

If people have opportunity to affiliate, grow, contribute, and have a sense of belonging, they will be motivated and engaged, even without a clear vision of the future.

So, as a leader, focus on these things today. Sit down for an hour and think, one by one, about each member of your team - including yourself.

As the leader, ask:

  • is this person working on something meaningful and challenging, something for which they have a good chance of succeeding?
  • is this person relating to other people, people they like and to whom they feel close?
  • is this person being recognized for the work they are doing? Can they influence decisions and outcomes?

If the answer is yes - great.

If not, create the appropriate opportunities immediately. Give people clear goals and the autonomy to achieve them. Make sure they are working on something they find challenging, interesting, and meaningful. Empower them with opportunities to collaborate and celebrate with others. This is especially important, because in times of uncertainty, people become more political. They start to suspect their colleagues are trying to be noticed, or they are trying to take more credit, or work on better projects. But as people work on projects collaboratively, trust grows.

Also, give your team opportunities to offer their input on how things should be done. Reward their participation with public recognition.

Culture and Teamwork

People aren't happy; satisfaction is abysmally low; people are not performing - some are threatening to leave. The organization is developing a reputation as an unhealthy place.

So, how do you change the culture of an organization? Such a simple question; surely there must be a simple answer.

Culture isn't something you fix.

Most organizations fail when they try to change their culture directly through speeches, training programs, or through direct intervention. To be successful, organizations need to change how they are led, and how are managed.

The new culture then emerges as a by-product of these changes.

Culture gets changed in concert with a new strategy, a new governance model, new processes, and new performance management systems. Pure culture conversations don't work because they don't produce a clear idea of what needs to change, and how it needs to change. Focusing on changing the way organizations solve problems inevitably affects collaboration, ergo, the culture.

An organization’s culture is a complex system with a multitude of interrelated processes and mechanisms which keep it humming along. Performance reviews and training programs define the organization's expectations. Reward systems reinforce them. Memos and communications highlight what's important. And senior leadership actions - promotions for people who toe the line, versus a dead-end career for those who don't - emphasize priorities.

In most organizations these elements develop unconsciously and organically to create a system which, while not always ideal, works. Changing culture is difficult, messy, and complex.

So, why not avoid it, if possible? Why change the culture? The business seems successful. The culture seems to be working. Why not keep it?

Because the current culture is not sustainable. Eventually the organization will lose its best people. No one will want to belong there, not even you.

Whether it’s a for-profit business, a non-profit NGO, or an organization representing the interests of Amateur Radio, the same is true.

Admittedly, building an effective, cohesive team is difficult. But it’s also simple.

Teamwork doesn’t require intellectual insight or masterful tactics. More than anything else, teamwork comes down to courage and persistence. So, if you’re committed to making your team a healthy one, and if you can get the rest of the team to share your commitment, you’re probably going to succeed.

Teamwork is hard to measure. Yet, as difficult as teamwork can be to achieve, it's not complicated. The true measure of a team is it accomplishes the results it sets out to achieve.

Two important questions:

1) Are you really a team?

Sometimes a team improvement process is doomed from the start because the group going through it isn’t really a team at all; they are a team in name only.

A real team is a small group of people who share common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them. Real team members readily set aside their individual or personal needs for the greater good of the group.

It’s okay to decide your group isn’t a real team. In a world where real teamwork is rare, plenty of non-teams succeed. In fact, if your group is not meant to be a team, it’s best to be clear about that than to waste time and energy pretending you’re something you’re not - because that only creates false expectations, leading to frustration and resentment.

2) Are you ready for the heavy lifting?

The advantages of being a real team are enormous. But these advantages cannot be achieved without a willingness to invest considerable time and emotional energy in the process. Unfortunately, many teams aren’t prepared, and they take shortcuts and half measures. Not only does this prevent them from making progress, but it can lead to a decrease in team performance.

So, it’s important to enter this process with eyes wide open, and with no illusions about what is required. That doesn’t mean becoming a team will take years, or that it will be unpleasant. Most teams do make significant progress in weeks, or months, and find the process itself most rewarding - if they do it right.

Communicate or else

So often when things go wrong, we blame a failure in communications. Communication missteps result in poor service, low morale, and unhappy colleagues and stakeholders. Most often, the underlying fault of poor communications is attributed to the organization - as a whole.

This may be true, but the individuals within the system also share some of the blame.

So, what can be done about this problem?

  • acknowledge that problems occur. Take responsibility for things you can change, focus on becoming a better listener, and reduce the volume of unnecessary e-mail you generate.
  • change the communication mindset. Be available to exchange ideas, make it clear that everyone owns communication issues, and that everyone has a stake in keeping lines of communication open and flowing.
  • punch holes in silos. Initiate dialogue with individuals with different interests about issues that affect you and your interests, and share information with them, asking for information in return.

Communication issues will always be with us. However, if individuals begin to exert more ownership of the problems, solutions will be found, one person, and one interest group at a time.

The Mark of a Team Player

An organization's success depends on a large variety of talent and skill, more than any one member of the organization can possibly possess. There are always many issues to address: technological, legal, financial, personal, leadership, and more. Any member of an organization who is self-aware enough to know he is not adept at everything, is one who has already taken the first step toward being a great team member.

This personal mastery involves a heightened understanding of one's own behavior, motivators, and competencies, in addition to having the "emotional intelligence" to monitor and manage one’s own emotional responses in a variety of situations. This can be very difficult, especially for those who are not comfortable, knowledgeable, or willing to acknowledge their individual strengths and weaknesses.

We all know people who insist on controlling everything that happens within the organization. This kind of behaviour can block or limit the talents of others and does not contribute positively to the forward momentum of the organization. Such individuals need to understand they must either lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Obviously, no single person can do it all, and, if they are the least bit self-aware, they will realize they are neither capable nor knowledgeable enough to do it all.

To help achieve self-awareness and personal mastery of being a great team player, members of a great team need to:

  • monitor their own personal performance, taking note of areas where they excel, where they need improvement, and then communicate that information to their peers.
  • recognize they need to be aware of the effect their behaviour has on others.
  • remember, while criticism is sometimes difficult to accept, there is probably some truth in it.

More Effective Leaders

What prevents us from making the changes we know will make us more effective leaders?

The answer has to do with a daydream which goes like this:

"I’m incredibly busy right now. I feel as busy as I have ever felt in my life. Sometimes my life feels a little out of control. But I’m dealing with some unique and special challenges right now. I think the worst of this will be over in a few months. Then I’m going to take a couple of weeks to get organized, start my 'healthy life" program, and work on personal development." 

Have you ever had a daydream that vaguely resembles the above? How long have you been having this same, repetitive dream? 

Most leaders have been having it for years.

The “couple of weeks to get organized” that most fantasize about, are not going to happen. Furthermore, there is a good chance tomorrow is going to be even crazier than today! 

If you want to make real change, ask yourself this tough question: What am I willing to change now? Not “in a few months”. Not “when I get caught up”, but NOW.

So, take a deep breath. Forget your glorious plans. Accept the craziness of your life. Do what you can do now. Let go of everything else. And make peace with what is.

List the personal improvement activities that you have been planning to do, but have not quite got around to yet, and challenge yourself on each activity. Get started on the activity within two weeks - or take that activity off the list.


1. Defend Your Ideas Without Being Defensive

Getting behind an idea means implanting it with your conviction and passion. Such commitment is vital when pushing for an initiative or suggestion you think important to implement. This enthusiasm also helps you bring others to your cause. But it can also be your worst enemy when someone pushes back.

Since you are so enamored of your idea, your instinct is to protect it as you might a child (this project is my baby). Big mistake! This puts you on the defensive.

When you face criticism, you need to defend yourself without being defensive. Being defensive opens you to additional criticism because very often it will provoke negative behaviors such as lashing out or shutting down, where you become caught in the moment and the niceties of polite discourse go out the window. It is fine to be passionate, but you want to avoid becoming overly passionate, that is, unwilling and unable to listen to others.

Maintaining an even keel in the face of skepticism, or even hostility, is vital to leadership presence, the kind of aura you need to radiate if you ever hope to instill followership. And when people are whaling on your ideas it is easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment. The challenge is not to overreact and to separate personality from ideology.

Here's how.

  • Be prepared. Whenever you propose an idea there are certain to be people who do not understand the idea, do not like the idea, or simply don't like you. So, prepare yourself for objections. Consider who will say what and why. For example, one colleague may say your initiative is cost prohibitive, another might question its efficacy, and another might wonder about its timing. Develop comeback arguments to address concerns. Use such arguments either pre-emptively - before the criticism is raised - or after the objection is voiced.
  • Be generous. Compliment others for the constructive feedback they are offering. You can do this even when the criticism is more critical than helpful because it shows you are someone that is above pettiness. Others might be petty, but you are one who takes the high road; this demonstrates strength of character.
  • Be patient. Few, if any, will embrace your idea as much as you have. So be realistic with your timeframe. Know it will take time and effort to persuade others to adopt your idea. You will hear similar counterarguments voiced multiple times; expect it. Refine your ideas to reflect you are listening to others. And remember - patience also requires you keep your cool.

Keeping your cool does not mean you roll over in the face of your opposition. It is essential to continue to project passion for your ideas and demonstrate your inner resolve. When you encounter criticism, counter with an argument which positions your idea as doing what is best for the organization - not simply yourself.

Defending yourself without being defensive will require practice. You can practice by having trusted colleagues pepper you with questions about your ideas. This will help you refine your speaking style. Work on relaxing your facial muscles, or even smiling - you want to radiate control. You are not in control of how others react, but you are in control of yourself, which is essential to demonstrating leadership in the face of opposition.

2. Critical Conversations

Leaders get things done through others. Leaders constantly need to prioritize tasks, develop growth strategies, and delegate responsibilities. The most effective leaders know how to have courageous conversations and they know the most important leadership transactions still take place in live, in-person conversations. Virtual communications such as e-mail or SMS are faster and more convenient than "in-person" options for staying connected and sharing information, but problems arise when these forms of communications are used to avoid critical or challenging messages that can have significant impact on an organization.

Good leaders embrace technology to enhance communication. Great leaders are careful not to replace in-person conversations required to get difficult things done.

There are three types of critical conversations for leaders to master: One-on-one meetings, small group discussions, and one-to-many town-hall style sessions, and there are three ways to improve them. The effectiveness of each style of meeting depends on the participants and the setting, the credibility and completeness of the leader’s intent, and the responsiveness to and emotional engagement with the audience.

The right participants and the setting: First, be sure you invite the right people and select the right type of meeting for the conversation. We all know the typical problems - some people use multiple one-on-one's when they should have a group interaction, or vice-versa; group meetings are rarely productive when attendance is restricted to only certain senior members; and some leaders will do anything to avoid town halls because they are visibly nervous or “wooden” in front of a crowd.

The physical setup is also important, for example, does the space allow good eye contact? Does it project the right informality? Does it promote reflective dialogue when called for? Try a different format, include, or exclude one or two people, see what happens and learn from it.

Credible and complete intent: Your audience must understand and trust the purpose you have stated for the conversation. Try this as you prepare for your next one-on-one meeting. List the outcomes you desire, starting with concrete ones such as "we will agree to these two specific performance goals". Keep going until you exhaust the more abstract desired outcomes, such as "he knows I really want him to succeed and will do everything I can to help." You typically have five to ten desired outcomes in a “one-on-one” chat, and it is important to prepare a complete list of intents and think through how to convey them ahead of time.

Responsiveness and emotional engagement: The best leaders go beyond good listening to make a caring connection at an emotional level. They respond to others' needs as they surface, thereby building trust. A good leader is willing to adjust their goals for the conversation based on the discoveries they make about others' needs, while staying true to their own values. This doesn’t mean being flexible to the point of agreeing to whatever the other party wants, but rather being open to a set of shared outcomes.

The ability to engage in direct, persuasive in-person conversations is the skill most crucial to leaders' success and good leaders will ask for help to improve their conversation skills. All too often, the tendency is to search to improving teamwork at the top, greater empowerment down the line, or increasing the rate of innovation, however, when you investigate many of these familiar issues, you usually find the right conversations either didn't happen, or failed to produce the necessary outcomes.

Good leaders can't afford not to have their conversations work the way they should, both for themselves, and for the good of the organization.

3. Broaden Your Perspective

There's one thing that's certain in life - change.

People change, fashion changes, technology changes, seasons change. That's why it's so important to stay flexible and be willing to adapt to embrace new things. But some people struggle with change because they think it's difficult, or because they feel comfortable where they are. If we aren't careful, we can easily become complacent and coast through life, never really growing or experiencing what we are fully capable of. When we refuse change, we limit our lives. When we refuse change, we limit our options, and ultimately, we limit what we can do in our lives.

So many people live narrow lives based on what they've experienced in their past. If no one else in their family went to college, they think they can't either. They let other people define their limits, or they allow their resources or circumstance to define their limits. If that's you, realize you are not limited by your past, the economy, or what you have been told you can or can't do. You are only limited by your thinking. No matter what options you may think you have right now, there is always an option you may not be able to see.

There is always another way.

Think about the first television sets that came out many years ago. The picture was in black and white only, and people thought B&W television sets were amazing! When color television was first introduced, many people resisted it. They had grown comfortable with their black and white TVs, and viewing life in gray was good enough for them. Color television was an option they just couldn't see.

The same was true when single sideband was first introduced; some AM boys had real trouble accepting it; they couldn't see the advantages of SSB.

You might be seeing things in black and white today, but life really is in full color. There is so much more if you will be open to new experiences and new ways of thinking.

4. Self-Confidence

How can I feel confident? The answer lies within each of us.

When it comes to leadership, the spring of self confidence is an understanding of what you have accomplished and what you feel you can do next. This is not happy talk. Consider what has enabled you to achieve what you have achieved to date. When it comes to finding sources of accomplishment, you want to focus on the positives, your moments of triumph - those opportunities where you shone, helping yourself and your team achieve a goal.

Here are three related questions you can ask yourself to help you uncover your triumphant self:

  • What do you do well? This question opens the door for you to itemize the abilities that have enabled you to succeed to date. Focus on your talents: what you do well. For example, you may possess strong conceptual skills, or you may be one who can think strategically, a person who can look at the big picture and see opportunities where others see only blue sky. Such abilities are your strengths. You owe it to yourself to recognize them.
  • Why should people follow you? You need a strong sense of self to lead others, so consider how you assess problems and find solutions. Look at occasions where you have mobilized yourself and your team to tackle a tough assignment. Perhaps you took on a failing project and turned it into a winner. Or perhaps you found ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies when others said it was impossible. In these instances, you gave people a reason to believe in your ability to get things done.
  • What have you done to earn the trust of others? This question should provoke a recall of what you have done to instill followership. You may have defused a conflict between two colleagues, or maybe you took the lead on nasty assignment that no one else wanted to handle. Perhaps you accept accountability, not just for what goes right, but for what goes wrong.

The search for the inner source of confidence is not an excuse for overlooking your weaknesses or an invitation to be overconfident. Rather it is an identification of the strengths that make up the authentic you. Self-awareness is an attribute vital to leadership effectiveness. While leaders know their weaknesses all too well, even good ones sometimes overlook their strengths. That can lead to an erosion of self-confidence.

Confidence is like a muscle; if you don't use it, you will lose it. It's a leader's job to set direction and determine outcomes; that only happens when leaders feel confident in themselves.

5. Making Things Happen

Credibility is Golden: Credibility is a leader's most important asset. Once lost, credibility may be impossible to regain, and so leaders must guard credibility and take care to never lose it.

Character matters: Character for a leader is action. Leaders are judged by what they do, not what they are. Little good can come from being good; you must do good things. You must be resolute in the face of crisis - the rock for your team to stand on when times are tough. And leaders should be in the shadow when success arrives.

Acknowledge shortcomings: Look for ways to overcome your weaknesses. Surround yourself with people who complement you in skills and personality. If you are the visionary type, get some practical people to carry out your ideas. If you are someone quick on the trigger, make sure you have calm and collected people beside you.

Live your values: Putting “value statements” on the wall may look good but take time to read them. Better yet, act on them. Living values is easy when the going is good; the challenge arises when times are tough. When tough decisions need to be made, consider your values. Doing what is right may cause hardship, but it’s better to give up what is expedient in favor of what is sustainable.

Finally, even the best intentioned of leaders and organizations make mistakes. When this happens, the leader or the organization must quickly accept responsibility.

So, if a mistake is made, admit it, and seek to make amends immediately. Don’t wait until things blow over; they won’t, until you act. Doing so requires guts.

And when a procedure or policy may be violated if a certain decision is taken, take away the fear.

Just ask:

  • is it legal?
  • is it good for the organization?
  • is it good for stakeholders?

If the answer is yes to all three, go ahead. Take the decision and stick with it; it’s unlikely you’ll be punished. The opposite may happen. You just may be rewarded for taking the bull by the horns and making the best of the situation - making lemonade from lemons.

Credibility is essential to leadership and leadership means making things happen.

Inertia Explained

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage hang a banana on a string from the top and place a set of stairs under the banana. Before long a monkey will go to the stairs and start climbing towards the banana. As soon as the monkey touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, when another monkey makes the same attempt, spray all the other monkeys with cold water. Soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put the cold water away.

Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey.

The new monkey will spot the banana and will attempt to climb the stairs. To the new monkey's shock, all the other monkeys will attack him. Any new attempt to reach the banana will produce another attack. Soon the new monkey learns if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted. 

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys, replacing it with a new one. The newcomer will go to the stairs and will be attacked.

And the previous newcomer will take part in the punishment - with enthusiasm.

Then, replace a third original monkey with a new one, followed by a fourth, then the fifth. Each time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked. Note: most of the monkeys who are assaulting the new monkey have no idea why they are not permitted to climb the stairs. Nor do they know why they are participating in the assault on the newest monkey.

Note also: having replaced all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, none of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway to the banana.

Why, you ask?

Because in their minds - that’s the way it is and has always been!

This is what the leadership culture is like in some organizations - and why sometimes all the monkeys may need to be replaced - at the same time.

Unlike the monkeys, don't make the mistake of assuming things can't change. 

Become part of the transformation process!