Leadership for business change
Organizations are as much resistant to change as people. In fact, managers alone, sometimes, are not able to facilitate change as much as people’s motivation. Motivations can be very different from one person to the next but, I truly believe that the best changes are driven by people’s passion to be part of something better. Doesn't matter what.
A leader can motivate and push an organization forward with just a few words but, what if the leader is not present during the changes or doesn't even understand himself the full extent of what will happen in his company, during and after the change? Then, the change still happens but is driven by micro leaders who can themselves lead others that require it.
When a small change in an organization is done, everyday, by a lot of people, the shape of the processes can be so different that the managers need a lot of time (and panic) before they adapt themselves to the new way of looking at the company. Sales might be higher, but if the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator) are changed for any reason it is not always obvious.
Micro leaders go the extra mile when they believe the change is worthwhile and, although I encounter several types of micro leaders in the different organizations, sometimes they don’t even need to know what the main reason for the change is. They believe, in the change, itself. They believe they can make a difference. Who doesn't want to make a difference in the world? The micro leader knows the staff and the staff know the real costumers. Very often managers only know some managers of big accounts, normally the ones with lower prices and, in a lot of cases with less or non-profit.
Changing an organization seems to be like building a big puzzle, without even seeing all the pieces at the same time, and only in the ‘big bang’, will everything relate and connect like it was planned.
In my experience of changing some companies’ processes, in every training session with the micro leaders or even with the staff, I had to be continuously in a “selling” mode, until I convinced most of them. Even when I am just selling the idea of the importance of capturing the right information on the right moment. I have to sell to everyone where, or when, that piece of information might be critical for their own job. When they buy into it, the change can be magic. Even if they never see or understand the view of the entire project, they can see, clearly, the costumer advantages, and understand how the organization’s change can help them.
The luckier managers I know, are the ones that found at least one micro leader they can fully trust, or, in some cases, they just allowed the micro leader to find them.
The results of changes are frequently not as easy to identify as the management wished. Sometimes lives are changed, costumers are happier and staff more efficient but the results are still not clear. KPI’s can lose their primary value and it might take time to accept and learn the new ones. Once, an owner of a small vending company told me that his best KPI was to see the cash growing in his bank account. I thought to myself “how can I beat that?”. This manager will never grow or change and all micro leaders that pass nearby will not pick him.
The micro leader can be so small that doesn't have anyone else to lead rather than himself.
Changes are always a big risk. Doesn't matter how many tests were done during the changes’ implementations, there’s always a chance of something go on a different way we were expecting - not always worse than the ones were planned and expected. The trick is to plan for the right team, internally or externally - normally both - to be there at the right moment which, in my trade we call the “go-live”, and, whatever happen in this critical phase, people have to be ready to accept the change.
It’s true that a butterfly’s gentle movement can be felt in the other side of the world as a tornado but and it’s also true that a storm can bring a lot of water to our garden. Let’s make sure the seeds are in the ground when that happens and that, after the clouds are gone, we have the right micro leader to do the watering.
Published in "Cooler Plus" Magazine,issue 53, October - November 2014