Thursday, 27 March 2014

Change Management: Are you Blocking Your Own Progress?

Today I am thinking about four of my clients and how they each lead change.  I'm also thinking about some further study I've done lately in Transactional Analysis.  Often we allow our internal scripts to impact how we lead change. Scripts are internal rules on how or what to be, do, think, feel, and need that we formed early in our lives.

Often we allow our internal scripts to impact how we lead change.

Two of my clients have just worked through massive restructures in their organisations.  Their new teams are "finding their sea legs" together and determining how they will fulfil their objectives as a team.  Both leaders have been working extra hours for several months as they cover vacant posts and deliver tough messages to unsuccessful candidates.  Each cares deeply about their organisations, and they have seemingly ceaseless energy.  As they make their personal transitions from being hands on and involved in the day-to-day to defining the strategy and inspiring the team to achieve it, it is easy to fall into a few traps.  For example:
  •  Leaving the day-to-day too quickly.  You've waited a long time to get the full team in place, but acclimating the team as a team is important.  Resisting the desire to step away entirely and move exclusively into the longer-term strategy now you have a full team is important as the team needs clear parameters and more frequent contact with their new leader in the beginning to ensure all are aligned and moving in a coordinated manner.  In TA terms, you may need to tap into how you feel and how others are feeling, as you continue to set the pace for change. Make sure you have a few people on board who can "check the pulse" of the team and the organisation as you move forward, and give you clear messages about what your team is feeling and needs from you.
  • Staying in the day-to-day too long.  While the team is new, the tendency is to stick around in the day-to-day until people are up to speed.  Too much of this and the longer-term strategy piece won't take off and the team's efforts at accountability and ownership will be thwarted.  Shifting into a higher (more abstract) gear can be difficult when you have had to focus on making sure nothing slips in the day-to-day.  This is when the daily habit of  purposeful selfishness needs to be formed.  Take that first 1-2 hours of the day for yourself to make progress on what you personally need to achieve.  Doing so will also be a great stress reducer and enable you to be your best self with others throughout the rest of the day.  In TA terms, you may need to allow yourself the luxury of free time to be and time to think.   Taking time to remove yourself from the ongoing hub of activity, open up some doors, and let your thoughts evolve is important.
Sometimes the change we lead is primarily in ourselves as leaders.  Two more of my clients are focusing on what they bring to the forefront of their leadership while they reshape their teams and tackle bigger challenges.  
  • Not asking for help.  You are clear on what to achieve, and you are never short on ways that it could be achieved, but instead you are now focused on how to inspire the team to be the ones developing the ideas and taking accountability. How helpful to be (when you have ideas and energy in abundance) is something to calibrate. In TA terms, focusing on what you need from others and asking for help will draw others to you and your leadership more than any dazzling strategy ever could.
  • Setting a new pace.  You are focused on creating larger scope for yourself and engaging and influencing others in your organisation.  In the past you have managed multiple projects and processes and worked hard.   Now you find you need to focus more on how to be a creative and engaging partner to the business, rather than doing what you have always done as a responsible manager. 
These examples are some of the personal leadership challenges we may face.  Not all those who need to set a new pace will find their challenge is about being; not all who are reliable drivers need to give themselves more thinking time.  But understanding your own internal scripts about how and what to be, do, think, feel, and need are important if we as leaders are to have more choice and broader capacity to succeed.  Think about the messages you learned early in life.  What were you encouraged or discouraged from?  And as an adult, how can you take responsibility for overcoming some of those internal scripts that hold you back from greater fulfilment in your career?  It's within everyone's capacity as humans to change...

Victoria Hall, Executive Coach
Founder of Talent Futures

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