Leaders show their priorities by when they are visible and where they spend their time. It’s not only important that you reiterate the vision and state it’s importance of change in formal gatherings. As Stephen Covey has said, “What you do has far greater impact than what you say.” You signal the entire organization concerning the primacy of a given project by whether or not you show up to status meetings, mention the progress at your organization-wide presentations, publicly recognize individuals for their significant contributions and work to clear the path for project success. For example, when you give priority to the purchase of key enterprise software in order to implement the plan rather than forcing the request to the back of the line as is the standard process, your actions speak volumes to those involved in the change project.
Max DePree has said “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leadership” in the essay “The Servant as Leader” in 1970. It’s principals are even more powerful today. At its core is the concept of acting as an enabler to those in your organization, clearing the path to make them more successful. This tenth and final tenet could be paraphrased as acting as a servant-style leader, being visible, being involved. Do not delegate this critical change management project completely, even to your most trusted employee. If this is a critical juncture in your business, if this is a time of danger, if this is of the highest priority, if you want people to follow you, then you must show ownership for this project.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”
- Rosalynn Carter
These are words of wisdom. I would add that a great leader takes people where they ought to be with a full understanding of how to move minds, to shift hearts and to bring people into a new vision of what the future will bring for them. A great leader understands how to take people through the grief of change to not only acceptance but embrace this change. The great leader understands change management and knows that painting the right vision is only a small fraction of the work the leader must do to move an organization. The great leader knows how to lead people to their own realization of the need for change, and of the power within themselves to accomplish, even drive that change.
Q: How many business leaders does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just one - but the lightbulb has to feel the need to change.