In Change, Leaders

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

I recently was fortunate enough to work with a business that wanted to significantly change their culture. I’ll spare the details, but it’s sufficient to say things were not good and management wanted a change.

Part of the process involved working with the supervisors within the business. In general they were supportive of the change, but they had one major concern. As one of them put it, “We’ve done this stuff before and nothing really happened. This time, is management really serious?”

The answer to that question is one of the most critical parts of successful change. Leadership support isn’t something you can fake, and it isn’t simply saying, “Let’s go team” every time you have a staff meeting. Leadership support means you don’t just verbally support – it means your actions show you support.

That might sound simple, but the reality is that a lot of leaders (I use the term loosely) think that what applies to the rest of the business doesn’t apply to them. Processes must be followed – but make an exception for me. Certain behaviors won’t be tolerated – unless I’m the one doing them. You get the idea.

The point is that not only do you need to show by your actions that you support whatever change initiative is going on, you need to show by your actions that you support whatever the business is doing at all times. You can be fully supportive of this particular change, but if you’ve blown off good behavior for the past 10 years, people aren’t going to buy what you’re selling.

Supporting change is a constant for leaders. There’s no on and off switch. So think about your own performance and ask yourself: Am I truly supportive of what this company is doing at all times? Or am I just supportive when it’s convenient for me? The answers to those questions say a lot about you as a leader – and go a long ways towards determining where your business is going.

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