OPINION | Your leadership style and change

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“Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.”

— Victor Hugo 

HAGÅTÑA — In order for leaders to continue to meet the demands of a changing marketplace and workplace, they have to change along with it. Private business, government, and military — it’s all the same.

Organizations can’t grow if leaders don’t grow. The 2020 Live2Lead conference speaker and author, John Maxwell, says it this way: “If on a scale of one to 10, 10 being best, you as the leader are a six…then your organization will be no better than a five.” For the organization to improve, the leader has to improve first.

Growth requires awareness

Leaders must understand both their own needs and those of team members. Once aware of the need to grow, there must be a willingness and commitment to do so. Finally, and most important, the courage to push forward, instigating and implementing change.

However, even with this awareness staring them in the face, there may be a strong reluctance to pursue the changes needed. Here are three key reasons for this.

  1. The leader is comfortable

Most leaders have a particular style of working with their team. It’s likely one that has been developed and modified over years. Just like wearing favorite old clothes, they’re comfortable with it and see no need to change.

I’ve heard a lot of feedback similar to, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Things are going OK and none of the employees or customers are revolting, so the thought is that tinkering with things can only make them worse.

I wonder how many managers and business owners thought they had the game totally figured out 10 years ago. Today, their organization may be populated with a lot of employees who see the working world very different from the folks on the payroll back then. These same leaders now likely aren’t so confident in their prospects for building a team.

  1. The leader feels inadequate

Speaking of confidence, leaders gain that when team members are on fire with the vision given and show it. Maybe you’ve seen this. When your team is hitting on all cylinders, that confidence is bouncing off the walls.

Conversely, when the team’s performance is down, motivation lags — lasting for a considerable period — and the team loses confidence. When a leader feels he/she has lost the confidence of their team, they lose confidence, too.

In this situation, a leader may resist change because they don’t feel they can carry it out.

  1. The leader fears sacrifice

It took me a while to get my head around this one, but some leaders who have been locked into a specific mindset for a long time, perhaps decades, are worried that change will demand they abandon chunks of their core beliefs and principles.

The Victor Hugo quote above deals with this directly. You and I don’t have to turn our backs on who we are and what we believe, in order to bring about growth and add value to other people.

That said, we shouldn’t be afraid to look at ourselves and measure those beliefs from time to time. This is where a coach might be useful as someone who will challenge us.

Ask clear questions

If you want to know how your team sees your leadership, ask them. Is that a scary idea? I’ve done this, one-to-one and in a group. It’s a little weird for everybody at first, but people will warm up to the idea.

There are only two rules. One, you don’t challenge anything they say. Just listen and make notes. If you turn it into a debate, it’s a big loss. Two, there are no repercussions for anything said. Be smart.

I love the following questions:

  • How can I be a better leader?
  • What can I do to help you perform better?
  • What do I do that makes you crazy?

The last one can be great fun, if you decide it’s going to be fun. It’s possible your team will see you in a completely different light, and some good bonding will take place.

We all need to get more comfortable with change. It’s coming faster than ever and if we’re open to it, good things can happen.

Jerry Roberts presents the 2020 Live2Lead Conference, with John Maxwell and a lineup of world class speakers. Online delivery and unique opportunities for your team are available. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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