Every business in today’s environment is confronted with change. The change is coming in many different forms from many different directions. There are very few businesses that can look at their business five years ago and say that it is still the same today and that it is continuing to improve in its performance.
Change is increasing in pace and it is having a major impact on the employees and the customers of business. Yet our ability to handle and manage change varies from individual to individual and for most it is a stressful process. The impact is that employees no longer work in the same direction, nor maintain the same levels of service and enthusiasm, and therefore the business can’t retaining a consistent client base over time.
The traditional approach to addressing change or implementing improvements is no longer effective or appropriate. The traditional method used the following pattern:
- Identify the problem
- Engage an expert who seemed to understand the problem best, read a book with the solution, or apply new technology
- Tell everyone how to do their jobs differently and better than the way they have been doing them
- Spend tremendous amounts of time, energy and money trying to:
a. Overcome the resistance caused by Step 3;
b. Make someone else’s solution work for us.
It’s not surprising that by using such approaches it takes most companies 3 to 5 years to implement a business plan or quality program. Most of their time is spent on Step 4 – convincing resistant employees to try something new and making sure they actually follow through on adopting someone else’s solution.
There are many examples in the Australian corporate environment where the traditional approach is being applied. Senior management are coming come up with great new ideas, trying to mimic results achieved overseas, and then impose the objectives on staff and ultimately customers. Under this model it can be observed that both the employees and the customers lose value while the company achieves short-term financial gain but potential long-term instability.
What is needed is Enlightened Leadership – leaders who have the ability to get the members of the organization to accept ownership for the vision and business plan as their own, thus developing the commitment to carry it through to completion.
The characteristics of Enlighten Leaders are that:
- Leaders need to possess the willingness and ability to draw the vision and plan from their people; Enlightened Leaders actually don’t need to have a vision themselves (in fact it might be better that they don’t!);
- Leaders inspire and empower their people to do what it takes to bring the plan and vision into reality
- Leaders provide guidance to implement the plans, rather than step in and taking it over and then revert back to the traditional method,
- Leaders nurture and encourage their people to be open, creative and innovative,
- Leaders find out what it takes to achieve their shared objectives
- Leaders recognize and reward success, and
- Leaders provide regular feedback.
In a nut shell Enlighten Leaders implement plans to address change by bringing out the best in people, removing their traditional barriers to change. The employees’ inputs are valued and adopted. Employees provide the business with the power, the resources and energy necessary to reach these new goals.
Success will build the blocks and strength to continue to allow the business to face change and convert it to opportunities for all involved. Failure to implement by the leaders will have the opposite effect.
For the managers, this is a move in style to one of facilitation and empowerment rather than direction and control. To achieve this many leaders use an independent facilitator in their business planning processes.
As business coaches and facilitators, we have seen the outstanding achievements that this empowerment produces. The employees’ and customers’ perception of the business changes dramatically as a result.
It is our job to help business owners and managers to become Enlightened Leaders of their business. Often we are just the catalyst in releasing the enlighten leadership that already exist within them.
David Duffy is a Director of PrincipleFocus and is a business catalyst with more than 25 years experience working with a broad range of clients of different sizes, industries and with varying objectives. For more information on PrincipleFocus visit http://www.principlefocus.com.au/