A Roadmap to Business Growth and A Prosperous Future

Do you have the key to Growth?

For almost three years, JR Andersen, CEO of mid-size software company Andersen High Tech (AHT), and his board have been uneasy. Business growth has been “OK” at eight percent but the market has been growing at a 15 percent annual rate. With almost half the growth from price increases, unit growth for the main product line has been less than five percent. Fortunately, margins have been expanding nicely along with management bonuses, so things aren’t too bad.

Or are they?

With business growth rates well below the market, AHT is losing customers and hence market share. At a minimum, this means lost opportunities.

Competitors are gaining enough critical mass to develop the next product faster or better. AHT’s biggest competitor has won three bids with “leading edge” requirements, leaving JR worried about his next generation product.

If you were JR and his board, where would you look to escape this predicament? My experience suggests the answer is in marketing strategy, not in technology.

To increase your company’s business growth, your new thinking and priorities should focus on:

– Finding hidden opportunities – Your potential business growth solutions are buried inside your current approach to product enhancement and development.

– Applying product discipline – You need to find and apply the right balance of technical and business factors for proactive product management.

– Discovering customer niches — You need to find specific customers with unique needs that you can serve better than others could.

Six months ago, JR started down this road. Here is his path to business growth success:

Finding the hidden portfolio gold & fixing your R&D investment black hole

AHT had a large “portfolio” of products and product enhancements in development. Like many companies I’ve seen, AHT’s pipeline had many small, incremental projects and very few truly innovative ones.

To fix his R&D problem, JR decided that he needed to divide the projects into 3 categories:

1. Major new products: Greater than 10 percent of firm revenue within three years.

2. Significant product enhancements: defined as substantial new customer functionality.

3. All other.

JR knew there were only four new products underway, counting two in the very early stages. He was surprised to find only seven significant enhancements, and even more surprised to find 73 “all other” projects.

Next, JR needed to understand the resources assigned to each category. Because there had been no central resource tracking, this step was hard for JR’s staff. They had to visit each product group and each functional organization several times before obtaining the necessary information. Everyone was surprised to discover only 20 percent of the resources assigned to major new products and another 15 percent on enhancements–with the remaining 65 percent working on “all other.”

The solution was obvious. Take resources from “all other” and add them to new product development or product enhancements. Not only did this improve confidence in launch dates, it opened a floodgate of possibilities for new products.

Applying Product Discipline

While looking at the AHT product development projects, JR first drew them out on a calendar showing launch dates. Then he asked his engineers and product managers some questions. They included:

– When are intermediate reviews scheduled and who is participating?

– Can you show me the specific customer needs that preceded the technical work?

– For existing products, do the product plans line up with corporate objectives?

– What are the skills and background of the people in product manager roles?

Like many companies, he found AHT only addressed these issues intermittently, meaning he received many answers he did not want to hear. In discussions with the vice presidents at the next staff meeting, JR and his executive management team agreed they needed to personally apply more consistent attention and focus.

Discovering Niches and Segments

Next, JR dug into the product plan for AHT’s product with the largest growth objective. He found the sales target, marketing communications plan, and the planned product enhancements. But the assessment of competitors was weak. Worse, the description of target customers and applications was missing. In other words, no description of why a customer would buy AHT’s product or which customers should be interested.

I’ve seen this pattern at many companies. The value proposition is missing or too broad, without real and specific customer benefits. Crafting a great value proposition includes becoming very specific about benefits in terms that affect the customer’s bottom line.

JR quickly realized that the most productive place to look for revenue growth was in incremental uses and new customers for AHT’s three key existing products. He asked his marketing, sales, engineering and customer service leaders to carefully understand and document each benefit received by current customers, then identify other similar customers.

Business Growth’s Bottom Line

After six months of focus, JR and his board are feeling better. Revenue growth for the last quarter was 17 percent and the most recent product launch was on time. The whole company now has a positive outlook and people are buzzing with energy. It took two new product managers and a lot of executive attention, but the customer niche/value proposition concept has really taken hold. The VP of sales even became a believer when he landed an elusive key account after a presentation of AHT key product benefits (rather than their technical capabilities).

The product launch schedule has six new products and fifteen enhancements in the pipeline, all with strong executive support and no more “black hole.”

I sincerely hope your company isn’t facing the problems faced by JR and his board at AHT. But if you are, try JR’s roadmap for business growth. Find the hidden opportunities, apply product discipline, and discover your customer niches.

B2B marketing expert, Bill Gilbert, has extensive experience in moving telecom and high tech firms, just like yours, from technical focus to a customer-driven brand. For more free business growth tips on how to drive a compelling value proposition, proactively manage new product development, and exploit product portfolios to systematically build brands check out Bill’s blog at: [http://www.b2bgrowthmarketing.com/marketing-blog/]

Author: Bill Gilbert

Misalignment can be costing 15%. What is it costing you?

Misalignment can be costing 15%
Misalignment can be costing 15%. What is it costing you?

What is misalignment costing your company?



What is misalignment costing you?
What is misalignment costing you?

We know of no company that has ever saved themselves into prosperity.  However, we also know of no company that has positioned themselves for long-term success without managing their costs, productivity and most importantly the actions that they take to give them an advantage in the markets that they serve.

In our experience, the primary obstacle is not structure, market conditions or financial pressure, it is misalignment …

•Misalignment of core processes with strategy

•Misalignment of recognition issues that reward activity but negate strategy

•Misalignment of managerial behaviors and attitudes with strategic direction(Inappropriate attitudes render long term success DOA)

•Misalignment of strategies, products and services with what customers really value

The simple logic is that today, misalignment can be costing your company as much as 15% of your gross sales.  Stopping only a fraction of this bleeding would improve your profits, employee and customer satisfaction, successful new product introductions and supplier relationships.  Your unit costs would go down and your competitiveness would go up.

We would like the opportunity to connect the above with your current business situation and to illustrate how our organization might become a resource to you. We unlike traditional consulting firms believe the answers to the challenges and opportunities facing an organization exist within that organization.  It’s our job to help you tap into this creativity and talent to get more from what you already have and fill the performance “GAP”s between your strategies, people, process and customers and where you want to be. Don’t let misalignment impact your profitability.

Charles Wilds – The SOS Group


Organizational Change Management

Change Management Leadership
Change Management Leadership

Organizational Change Management





A colleague of mine says that people don’t mind change and they don’t necessarily fear it – but that they do fear what is required to make a change. So, in effect, when organizational change management is proposed and employees begin to have “fear conversations” (“I wonder what job moves are going to come about as a result of this. . .?” “Where is all this heading. . .?” ” What kind of shake-ups will there be at the top?”) what they’re actually expressing is a fear of how the change is to be instituted. Organizational psychologists are highly attuned to change constructs, to the organizational purposes that they serve, and the opportunities and advantages that they provide for organizations. For all the positive aspects that change provides, we nevertheless find dichotomized thinking about the change process, when we work with the employees of a corporation undergoing change. From one prospective, we find that the organization’s members endorse the end result of change and the advantages that this can bring. They can see, for example, that changes can offer greater efficiencies and improved and easier ways of doing things; increased corporate profits and a chance at higher salaries; a heightened competitive edge and greater market status advantage for the company. While acknowledging these benefits, what they talk to us about, however, are the actions and details that will occur between the time change is initiated and when the change has been effected – that is, the path that is to be traveled to make the change is of the greatest concern.

Because change is so all-pervasive in modern organizations, two of the most critical elements of leadership are initiation and management of change. Most managers have had limited training in the specifics of leading organizational change and have little idea of the ways that their employees perceive and experience change. And, yet, much of the day-to-day work of the manager involves addressing marketplace opportunities – most of which require change to the organizational structure and its employee functioning. The greatest determinant of the future success of an organization is the CEO and leadership team’s ability to address change by formulating and articulating a clear vision and carefully-crafted strategic reactions.

Change in complex organizations requires management of the interplay of emotions and cognitive processes. Managers, on the whole, lack the knowledge and background to deal with imminent and forced organizational changes. The modern, dynamic business environment requires large numbers of changes to be made during any given year, from an ever-widening range of change choices. Without training in this area, managers often resist change or avoid organizational transformation effort. When faced with the need to change, resistive actions on the part of the organization’s leaders can precipitate a process that results in rapid deterioration of the organization. Sound knowledge of organizational change processes, on the other hand, allows leaders to view change as an opportunity that can be guided and managed for greater gains.

From these two different approaches to organizational change – change resistance or change management – two differing belief systems emerge. The belief of the “change resistant” manager is that change will bring instability, upheaval, unpredictability, threat and disorientation; the “change embracer,” on the other hand, sees change as an opportunity — a chance for rejuvenation and innovation as well as progress and growth. In effect, the difference in the two approaches is a that of viewing change from a perspective of fear and anxiety, or from one of excitement and confidence.

From our experiences in organizations, there is no doubt that confident managers deal with change management most effectively. To arrive at a point where they are poised and assured of handling organizational changes, managers will have devoted themselves to constant and continuous learning. Dedicated learners gain the ability to gather large amounts of current knowledge that allows flexibility to react with dexterity and skill to crisis situations. Learning managers also come to know the culture of their organizations, and, consequently, are adept at persuading and reassuring employees to follow their lead in instituting change propositions.

From our many experiences of working as consultants in organizations, the professionals in my company have gleaned the following precepts of managing change:


Managers need to be able to clearly and completely describe and justify the changes that they propose. In order to prepare their employees for change, they need to have researched the topic well in order to be able to clearly delineate: 1) the reason for the change; 2) the proposed actions to be taken; and 3) the expected results. Good data to support the need for change are critical. The data need to be provided, along with sources for employees to find background and technical information for the proposed changes on their own. Providing information sources for employees encourages an informed workforce and also promotes the growth of an organizational population of learners.


The manager should know the employees and the organizational culture well enough to be able to anticipate those who will be resistant to change. Preparations for emotional reactions to change can be accomplished by developing strategies for use in specific situations. Change scenarios can offer sound operational approaches for most circumstances. If there are departments or other “pockets” of personnel who are likely to resist the changes, the manager and his staff will want to work with these members either in groups, or one-on-one, as appropriate.


The manager, or an expert hired to assist with the intricacies of individual behavior in change situations, will need to confront employee fears and reactions to the change. There is a need to talk openly about plans for change and the actions relating to the change as well as to work with individual employees to assist them in addressing their concerns. As a part of this process, employees will need to determine “what’s in it for me” — this might simply be that the company, and they along with it, will prosper under the new directions. Once there have been discussions to promote greater understanding, employees can begin to think seriously about their roles in the change process.


The focus of the work with employees during the planning and initiation stages of change will be on engendering employee trust and inspiring teamwork. When goals are explained well and management credibility and integrity exists, it will be possible to transform employee reactions of anxiety to an endorsement of changes. Trust and team building is a topic requiring lengthy discussion, as there are prescriptive processes that will need to be followed. To accomplish this phase of change, leaders will need to research the topic well; or, alternatively, employ experts who can guide the organization’s members through formal teambuilding and organizational development processes.


The desired outcome for teambuilding is to have employees feel that they own the change process as well as the path that is to be traveled to secure the change. Great value is derived from the employee dedication and rejuvenation that comes from feeling ownership of the change process. When an employee is feeling in charge of the process and of his own fate, there is certainty that the desired change will be accomplished. This level of confidence also fosters inspiration, new ideas, and innovative ways of doing things that result in a high rate of overall achievement.


Throughout the change process, from the planning. . . to the introduction of change . . . to the implementation, the leader must lead. That is, employees must be convinced, in both words and actions, that the leader is fully behind the change processes. Members of the organization must be able both to know and to sense that the direction of change is well understood and highly endorsed by the leader, and that the leader harbors no doubts about the proposed course of action leading to greater organizational benefit and commercial gain for the organization. Good information about the organization’s position and the need for change, a clear plan for action, and absolute faith in the success of the actions to be undertaken will be interpreted positively by employees. A leader that proposes change must be certain of the commitment and skill in leading the change efforts. It is for these challenging change efforts that confident leaders are most needed.

In summary: A leader must be willing to embrace the organizational change management processes with clarity and enthusiasm; must have identified the need for change through avid learning processes; must be able to transmit a commitment to the change as well as to one’s employees throughout the process; must be willing to work with individuals, groups and teams to establish the right path to accomplish the change; must be willing to share the ownership of the change processes and to compromise and deviate, where needed, from the original plans in order to ensure that others assume important roles in the process. And, above all, the leader must exhibit the courage and conviction that engenders respect and confidence from others in the organization; that allays most doubts; and that inspires employees to greater levels of performance and accomplishment.


Author: Dr. Billie Blair

Five Steps to Effectively Managing Organizational Change

Knowing Change
Knowing Change

An organization is, quite simply, any group of individuals who come together to try to achieve mutual goals by means of a division of labor. This is done by means of setting goals that will further the organization’s growth and viability within the existing social and economic milieu as well as developing agreements among the people comprising the organization as to who will do what and when and under whose supervision and guidance.

When contemplating changing anything about these arrangements, it is well to be advised to start at the beginning of why and how this existing arrangement came to be and why it exists at the current time. After all, what has come to be accepted and observed as the standard operating procedures of an organization came about for good reasons and have been effective at achieving beneficial results for a period of time (perhaps a very long period of time). Altering an accepted, comfortable and heretofore useful way of doing things is challenging. The initial challenge that presents itself is fully comprehending and appreciating the foundational narrative of the organization and the collective experiences that members have shared since its inception. In other words, what of its past makes the organization tick today?

After coming to a thorough understanding of what makes the current organization tick, there are five steps that need to be taken sequentially in order to effect effective change.

1. The first step to take in initiating change within any type of organization is to create acute awareness of how things are now and how this state of affairs falls short of accomplishing stated goals and objectives. This can be done by disseminating occasional “state of the organization” reports as well as holding brief, but frequent, “progress report” meetings within each department and/or subgroup.

2. The second step is to nurture understanding that something must be done to change the current situation. Solicitation of input from coworkers regarding what can be done to change things follows logically from the understanding that something should be done. “Input equals buy-in” and those who contribute their ideas on how their organization should change have a strong investment in making that change happen.

3. Next, although people may provide suggestions as to how to change, unless there is a sense of urgency to do so, change will be perceived merely as a concept rather than a process that needs to be started immediately. Once change is understood as needing to be accomplished, a positive perception of what it will look like, both in terms of the transition process and the “finished product,” needs to be fostered and fed by constant communication about the shared vision of the future and the specific ways everyone will individually benefit in that new reality.

4. On the way to making the changed environment and operating procedures “stick” and stay feasible throughout the organization, there needs to be a well-thought-out program to ensure the actual adoption of the changes in the way things are done. Rewarding those who perform in the new ways and telling the stories of how their results better meet the current needs and accomplish the goals of the organization will go a long way to moving all members toward behaving in the “new and better” way.

5. Once adopted as “the way things are done around here” change can be seen as having been institutionalized within the organization and established as the new standard for performance and measurement of success, recognition and reward. Continue to solicit feedback on the new ways and request still other ways members can improve their respective job tasks to achieve even greater levels of efficiency. The idea is to leverage the experience and ideas of those who do the job to improve the job on a continuous basis. Institutionalizing new and improved ways of doing things in an organization is an ongoing process. In other words, managing organizational change means to continually insist on change for the better.

Knowing the roots of the organization, where and when it arose and how it’s progressed over time, and then engaging in the five steps to initiating and managing organizational change, you will successfully guide your organization through its transition from where it is now to where it needs to be for greater effectiveness and better results.

Ken Wallace, M. Div., CSL has been in the organizational development field since 1973. He is a seasoned consultant, speaker and executive coach with extensive business experience in multiple industries who provides practical organizational direction and support for business leaders. A professional member of the National Speakers Association since 1989, he is also a member of the International Federation for Professional Speaking and holds the Certified Seminar Leader (CSL) professional designation awarded by the American Seminar Leaders Association.

Ken is one of only eight certified Business Systems and Process Coaches worldwide for General Motors.

His topics include ethics, leadership, change, communication & his unique Optimal Process Design program.

Tel:(800)235-5690 Claim your FREE Leadership Self-Evaluation Checklist and your FREE 5-Day Mini-Course on how to get off your mark and into the life of your dreams, “Get It Done By Tomorrow!” by visiting the Better Than Your Best website and sign up for our FREE Newsletter.

Author: Kenneth Wallace

Leadership Coaching – Vital to an Organization

Leadership CoachingIt is vital to have proper leadership coaching in an organization. It is unfortunate that in many companies, management teams have no clear understanding of how to lead. The default for them is to micro manage others by pushing out their chest feathers and showing “who’s in charge”. Hundreds of books exist on how to best lead a team of people and have an amazing concept between them; however you cannot effectively learn how to lead people from pages in a book.

The position you hold may hold a title of leadership, but it doesn’t mean that you automatically exude the leadership qualities. Keep in mind; even the largest corporations have CEO’s that do not know how to effectively manage others. Other employees of the company may have been with the company for 20 years and know their job inside and out. Does this mean they know how to coach others? It is important for a leader to gain respect, confidence and above all – TRUST – of their employees. What is the first two ways to do that? Treat them like a human; not a number and be able to do their job! If you are willing to do their job from time to time, they are willing to go above and beyond for you most of the time.

Do you need to be over 40 to be a good leader? Absolutely not! Age does not matter in the least when it comes to leadership skills. It has to do with personality. If you have the natural leadership qualities it takes to be an amazing leader, you don’t need to be 40. Quite a few 20 year olds hold an important leadership position! You see, a great leader is not noticed for the title, but for the ability to motivate the team consistently; one who is always searching for new ways to motivate and improve standards. In the effort to improve standards, the leader needs to identify weaknesses in the company and present and/or implement solutions to assist the company in gaining strength.

Another important quality of a great leader is education. Not the degree itself. It is all about the education on the company they work for and the understanding they have of all of the intricate details of the company. Without this, how could the leader make a well informed decision about the company that would benefit everyone? Is the leader able to adapt to any situation? In the corporate world, the fancy term is “change management”. There are those employees that are unfortunately labeled “change inept”. We think of them as those who will come close to having a panic attack and the mention of change. Why label them? Why not apply the leadership skills you have and work with them to make the transition as easy as possible?

In leadership coaching, it is not training, it’s an attitude!

Elle Wood recommends LeadershipIQ for outstanding leadership coaching. LeadershipIQ’s leadership programs deliver cutting-edge content with no fluff. Their leadership coaching is based on research, tackles thorny issues, is highly-interactive while making your leadership management more accountable with specific tools for immediate action.

Author: Elle Wood
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Team Building Maneuvers and the Team’s Leadership

Vision of Team AlignmentConquering the Challenge of “Change” through Team Building Maneuvers

Nothing is as upsetting to your people as change. Nothing has greater potential to cause failures, loss of production or failing quality. Yet nothing is as important to the survival of your organization as your people and their response to change.

Research tells us that 70 percent of all change initiatives fail (Source: Author Peter Senge, “The Dance of Change,” Doubleday Press, Toronto, Ont. 1999, p. 3-4). Beyond a doubt, the likelihood of your change initiative failing is overwhelming. Since 2004, I’ve studied, facilitated and taught change processes and experience tells me that change efforts fail for one, two, or all of the following three reasons:

1. Failure to properly define the Future Picture and the impact of the change.
All too often, the “change” initiative addresses the symptoms of current challenges and problems rather than the future the organization wants or needs to create. Change is about creating a desired future, not just correcting current problem/symptoms.

2. Failure to properly assess the current situation, in order to determine the scope within the requirements for change.
Organizations perpetually assess the current situation against current measures of performance. However, change is not the same as problem-solving or project management. Rather, managing change is about moving an organization strategically forward to achieve its vision of the future.

3. Failure to effectively manage the transition of moving from the present to the future.
Experience demonstrates that failure to effectively manage the transition/transformation need is the leading cause of failure for strategic change initiatives. The change itself is not the problem. Change is an event; it is situational: deciding to implement a new system, target a new market, acquire or merge two organizational cultures (Source: Author William Bridges, “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change,” Addison Wesley, Don Mills Ont., p.3). The problem occurs with what happens within the gap between the present and future, after the “change” and before you get to “there.” The reality of change is that change is about people not structures – people are the reasons for stop gaps in change initiatives!

Failure to successfully execute often comes from seeing the change as solely structural, so once the new system is designed and ready for implementation, the new organization is agreed upon and the doctrine papers are signed to legalize the “deal,” everyone, including the CEO, walks away from what is considered (prematurely) a “done deal.” This is a mistake that goes on all too often like a broken record. History is full of examples of organizations and teams that failed when experiencing changing environments (most of them are now extinct). The secret to successfully managing change, from the perspective of the people within the organization and their teams, is “definition” and “understanding.” To make it clear, I’ll explain them in subsets.

Definition and Understanding for the “WHAT” in Teams

It is important to understand that not everyone who works together or in close proximity is a member of a team. This concept is a misnomer for a lot of people. A clear explanation of a team is a group of individuals who are interdependent with respect to intelligence, information, transferable skill sets, resources, and tools and who seek to combine their efforts to achieve a shared-vision towards a common goal. A team, for instance, is either building or falling apart. An essential aptitude for true team building and the maneuvers they require is leading the team into building on a continuous basis. Team building maneuvers lead a group into higher levels of team spirit, cooperation and interpersonal communication. Building teams is the process of developing on the team-dynamics and interpersonal relationship of the people that come together to make-up the unit. Team spirit either grows or it dies based on the dynamics of the unit.

Teams have specific characteristics that should be addressed:

– Teams must be constructed to achieve a shared-vision for a shared goal.
– Team associates are interdependent regarding some common interests; teams are the instrument of sustained and enduring success in leadership and management.
– Teams use strategic thinking, acting, and influence – associates each possess the authority to manage their own stimulus for change.
– A team is a type of group, but not all groups are teams – team leaders know this to be true.
– Teams are formed to best facilitate learning and peak performance while operating in a socialist environment.
– Team associates are not responsible to “self,” but to their team and its mission; their obligation is to guide the unit to find its voice, while strategically and flawlessly executing.
– Teams learn to navigate positive transition to disseminate authority and power for change – and, they understand when it is a “must” to move into greater levels of performance (the difference between ordinary and extraordinary high performance teams).

The difference between ordinary teams and high performance teams are its people and their abilities to overcome the fear of change. High performance teams place a focus on the people who drive the overall performance within the system: “how do you define a high-performance team?” A high performance team is a group of people who are led by an exception leader, ALL having complementary skills, who understand roles and goals, and who are committed to achieving those goals through a shared-voice, as one unit or body, to demonstrate strategic and flawless execution measures for overcoming changing environments.

This team format learns quickly how-to work together toward mutual goals using their individual skills to support one another regardless of the situation they are engaging or any amount of resistance to change from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss or failure.

The “alpha” of the high performance team’s resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The “omega” is how well they are equipped to deal with the change they expect. The team member’s degree of resistance is determined by whether they perceive the change as good or bad, and how they expect the impact of the change to be on the entire unit. Their ultimate acceptance of the change is a function of how much resistance the team member has and the quality of their coping skills and their support system. The job role of the team leader is to address their resistance from both perspectives by helping each member reduce it to a minimal, manageable process level. The success of the response depends on the leader’s ability to lead by example, their level of trust from the members on the team and their ability to persuade the members to overcome their resistance so the unit can move ahead. When the leader is able to communicate a low threat level and/or limited risk, the member’s perception will be one of trust for engaging the objective. Simply, it will all come down to the leader’s relationship with the team; hence, the success of the team not only depends on its members, but also on the leadership they follow.

Definition and Understanding for Accepting “CHANGE” on Teams and Organizations

Now, we’ll look at how teams can manage change and fear, and overcome them both to perform at its peak as a unit, and pronounce its leadership style to permeate peak performance across an entire organization. The “alpha” here begins by looking at change as an emotions state that is synonymous with fear. Fear stipulates an uncomfortable emotional response to potential threats and a way of life. It is a basic survival mechanism that occurs in response to specific stimulus of future events, such as worsening of a situation or continuation of a situation that is unacceptable. It needs to be addressed by the leadership personnel in as much detail and as early as possible. Leadership must be able to provide updates as things develop and become clearer if any chance is possible for overcoming the fears that are the precursor for change.

“Definition” is a two-way street. In addition to defining a problem that causes fear, team leaders need to get their members to a point that they feel comfortable defining the reasons behind their resistance. “Understanding,” the “omega” here is also a two-way street. Team leaders must be prepared to clearly explain to their members what is changing and why. They must also be clear about the member’s reluctance. Here are a few things that the team leaders must be aware of:

– Team leaders must not try to rationalize the issues, but focus on opening and maintaining clear channels of communication with their team members so they understand what is coming and what it means to them and the unit.
– Team leaders must be able to help their member gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation at hand, both the positives and negatives.
– Team leaders must inform their members what the change will be, when it will happen and why – what is not changing and how the anchors on the team (the characteristics, such as “trust” that holds the team together) will be affected as they face the winds of uncertainty and change.
– Team leaders must be able to understand the specific fears of each member. What their concerns are and how strongly they feel about the potential outcomes, both the positives and negatives (do they perceive it as a good or a bad thing?).

The Bottom Line: Definition and Understanding

Conquering the challenge of “change” through team building maneuvers requires innovation, creativity and some good old fashion “leadership.” People yearn for ideas (big and small ones) and think that if they just had that one “right” idea for the team or organization, success would surely come. Certainly, we can all do things to be more creative, but having ideas isn’t the biggest, or even first, source of our challenges.

Think about it this way. You’ve experienced what is believed by you to be the greatest workshop ever attended, so you go back to the workplace to integrate what you’ve learned – only, you never do. You’ve thought about trying a new approach to your meetings, but never did. You’ve had a great idea that never went anywhere. You’ve had an idea for a new process, but failed to introduce it to other the leaders. The list can go on and on and you’ll see that there’s no shortage of ideas or creativity that is stopping you. What is stopping you is fear, the fear of change or the fear of failure. Either way you look at it, fear is the stimulus that stops great people from doing great things – the action that is required for successful progress in life and in the workplace.

Change and Failure (Breakdown)

Failure and success are the outcomes of change. No matter how you look at them both, they each have a constant that cannot go unnoticed, “leadership.” We cannot succeed at higher levels of performance if we maintain status quo, but inherent in change is the possibility that we might fail or experience a breakdown in process. So any discussion of the “fear of change” or the “fear of failure” needs to start with a discussion on transition and transformation. While there are downsides and risks involved in change (including the risk of failure) think of all of the positives that can come from change:

– Process Improvement to Leadership and Management,
– Overall Employee Performance Increases,
– Team Development, Transition and Transformation,
– Greater Satisfaction (Individual) – Personal Proficiency,
– Organizational Renewal – Professional Mastery, and
– Marketplace Expansion, and much more.

And these are just a few. The next time you feel the fear of failure, think about how you feel about change and how it impacts your level of fear. All change involves a certain amount of uncertainty and ambiguity and those two conditions provoke anxiety. This is a reason to hold onto the past for lessons learned; it’s familiar, and as the adage goes, “better what you know versus whet you don’t know.” So, although change has the ability to promote new systems, structures, organizations and teams, people will always conform to the “same old~same old,” unwilling to let go of the past. That is why looking at the positives and keeping an open mind is so critical to the success of experiencing change.

Structuring Failure and Success (Breakthrough)

One individual’s failure is another individual’s success; it’s all based on a decision that “must” be made at some point. Sun Tzu, arguably the greatest military strategist that many still follow, had his say on success and failure: “Consideration and analysis of The Five Elements, “Dao” – Moral Unity, “Tian” – Weather Condition, “Di” – Geographical Condition, “Jiang” – Leadership Quality, “Fa” – Discipline and Organization Structure, a must know for all commanders. Victory to those who understand and no victory to those who does not. The Five Elements will determine success or failure of conducting war.”

Here’s an explanation of Sun Tzu’s statement through comparison and an analytical lens. The Five Elements will reveal the factors of success and failure of all battle, namely: Moral Unity, Weather Condition, Geographical Condition, Leadership Quality, Discipline and Organization Structure.

Moral Unity determines the cohesiveness between the ruler and his subjects, the leader and his followers, the general and his soldiers. Ultimately, to achieve full support by fellowman, putting aside life and death matters and share the view of the ruler’s is the goal of Moral Unity. Only when a view or decision is fully supported, can orders be carried out smoothly by the team.

Weather Condition such as summer/winter and drought/flood will have significant affects on how plans are executed. When weather is an element that no one has any control, the best strategy will be take full advantage of the conditions when able. Going against the force of nature may prove rewarding when one overcomes, but it usually spells destruction.

Geographical Condition here refers to distance of near/far, terrain/mountainous/flat regarding the battle space, wide/narrow the battle field and whether the location chosen to engage the battle favors attack/defense.

This will limit the size, type and performance of the troop. The same for business – this will also determine the team’s reaction to the mission and the amount of resources – people, process and management of initiative that will be required to win.

Leadership Quality (my favorite) concerns the general/commander’s leading capability. There are five qualities of a good leader: “wisdom, trustworthiness, benevolence and deportment, courage (both physical and emotional) and sternness (temperament).” These five qualities will affect the leading capability of a commander, his culture and climate for organizational behavior effectiveness within the environment and the efficacy and value of his command being carried out by the people under his leadership.

Discipline and Organization Structure is the system of open communication and the vehicles used to do so – how each level within the organization manages and leads the people and process, including logistics. It requires a fair, consistent and clear communication to everyone. Communication is the greatest resource in all of life, not only in organizations, but in all we set out to accomplish. Effective communications is leadership’s greatest tool to win its people, systems, processes and management of functions.

As The Five Elements are inter-related, no leader can either ignore or fail to understand the constructive/destructive nature of each element. Victory will overcome “failure” and “success” will fall upon those who analyze and clearly understand The Five Elements. Therefore, by asking who offers fairest reward and punishment, whose troop, team or organization is best trained and led, whose equipment and resources are more efficient and plentiful, who can deliver and communicate order/leadership smoothly, effectively and thoroughly, who has better geographical/weather advantages (culture and organizational climate), who has more resourceful leaders and followers – teams, whether the appointed leader/leadership is wiser, more strategic in their thinking, tactical in their approach to engage and has virtue… the winner is clear, defined and understood.

Constructing it all to Enhance Leadership for Teamwork as an Essential Goal

What am I referring to in the term “Leadership for Teamwork?” Organizations can try to influence leaders to work as a team, but only leaders themselves can make it work. Why should you want to be a team-oriented leader, and how can you take steps to make it happen, even when the status quo is not favorable? A strong motivator to becoming a better cohort with your leaders-colleagues-peers is to take stock of what “not” collaborating is costing you during the tough times (and, even the not so tough times).

As you attempt to lead others and yourself, it is important to keep in mind your quintessential intention to enhance, deepen and strengthen the spirit of “we are absolutely on the same team, sounding with one unified voice, and committed to achieving the same outcome/ Future Picture for one another.” Integrate the improvement of the quality of leadership for effective teamwork into your objective, strategy and tactics. Include it in the vision and mission and ensure that all members across each level of the organization understand and can communicate it without fail. It must not “only” be written on a fancy picture and placed on the wall (the all too common inspirational). It must run like blood through veins and become as important as the air we breathe.

Express your value of Leadership for Teamwork and team fortitude by ensuring that the cost factor is not as important in the decision to remain on a continuum to train organizational behavior, transformational leadership, strategic execution and team building maneuvers as the decision to make all allocations to do so. The cost of not doing it, even when things are tough, offers a far more potential for failure.

If you overlook Leadership for Teamwork and effective team building maneuvers by focused exclusively or excessively on the outcome you want teamwork to accomplish, you’ll place your team and organization in a position to neglect the means to your end and eliminate the solution-centric outcomes in your future. This would be like a U.S. Marine purposely neglecting to adequately care for his weapons while on the battlefield.

How you think about each individual and team in the organization is the most critical aspect in Leadership for Teamwork. By leading your own thoughts, you begin leading in the most significant way. So discipline yourself to think about those you are responsible for leading as members of your team, and not as your problems, adversaries or competitors. You have to “mentally embrace” them as for you, and not against you, particularly when they demonstrate difficult conduct. This is the truest form of selflessness that, in most cases, is forgotten.

An effective and easy tool to form the greatest disciplines in Leadership for Teamwork is for everyone to do his best to interpret the behaviors of others, however dissonant, as a sign of a core challenge or initiative that needs immediate attention. It’s important to realize that behaviors are a form of communications to address Leadership for Teamwork and this action can transform bad feelings of resentment into positive organizational behaviors and gratitude. Our President Barack Obama, the 44TH of the United States, used similar techniques to successfully win the elections to lead the American people; “CHANGE and Leadership for Teamwork!” His message rings true around the world and is also being used to bring communities and Governments (also forms of teams) together in ways that at one time, would never have been thought of. Marcus Aurelius said, “Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart.”

This statement can be applied to teams and defines the true meaning of Leadership for Teamwork. The team that is not overwhelmed with being productive and full of life is far too busy dying. Life is born from every member and led by every member. Regard Leadership for Teamwork as an essential means for overcoming fear, winning change and leading through cooperation to experience peak performance that takes the organization to the next level.

How to Lead your Team to the Next Level

What is the worst thing that could happen? Actually, people will ask a more rhetorical question: “what could happen?” But, they never really get the answer they are hoping for because of fear. Most of the time, just asking the question seems like progress is being made or, a significant amount of time (meetings to schedule more meetings that promotes nothing but time and talk) planning and not executing. This is a question that simply hangs in the spam folders, lost in internet space or on a memo at the water cooler. Don’t let it become a technical “error message” that requires someone else to get it done. Take the initiative to go against the status quo and get the question answered yourself. Consider the very worst thing that could happen; answering the question for yourself can and will stimulate movement in a positive direction. Often, the absolute worst case isn’t as bad as might think.

What is the best possible outcome? Seriously, what is the best thing that could happen? Think about the scenario where everything goes perfectly. Will this be your outcome? Maybe not, but your worst case scenario likely won’t happen either. It takes both of these questions to really understand your situation. Chances are, your results will be somewhere between the two. Once you have considered the range of possibilities, you are in a better position to decide whether to proceed or not, and you will have definitely reduced your fear of failure if you do take that step forward.

Next, you can explore the development of a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MOU) for the team. This is designed for people to learn broadly, to inspire the service out of generosity for others, and to prepare them to lead courageously into the future. A Memorandum of Understanding encourages a perspective to become firmly grounded in the potential for successful growth using a series of constructs – a portfolio management approach – that everyone buys into for effective deportment and forward movement. A Memorandum of Understanding acts as the blueprint for strategic leadership on the teams and across the organization.

Are you wondering how to build an organization in which executive leaders, team leaders, middle managers and front line staff will flourish? To build an environment where people, teams and organizations will flourish and achieve peak performance, you must get the best leaders to pay close attention to the design of the elements around them (situational awareness).

The Memorandum of Understanding articulate a lucid purpose, helps to create effective leadership teams, prioritize their initiatives carefully, redesign organizational structures, employ strategic intent meets strategic agility to result flawless and strategic execution and, most importantly, integrate all these tactics into one coherent strategy.

The Memorandum of Understanding must include the following constructs:

– The Cardinal Rules,
– The Guiding Precepts,
– The Forms of Disposition,
– The General Orders,
– The Strategy Forward – Establishing Professional Mastery, and
– The Centers of Gravity.

The Cardinal Rules are a set of guidelines that are invaluable for people and organizations to follow while planning and executing at the strategic or tactical level. These rules, once established by the individual(s) or teams are the rules that govern forward movement and must not change (i.e. To manage by mind, lead by heart).

The Guiding Precepts are designed to inform people what they should and should not be doing in accordance with executing a well designed strategy to win. They also inform of the reasons “why” an action must occur and the repercussions should the individual and/or organization fail at meeting such a task (i.e. Unselfishness; this trait is the avoidance of providing for one’s personal comfort and advancement at the expense of others. The comfort, pleasure, and recreation levels should be placed above everything. Looking out for the needs of others is the essence of self-leadership).

The Forms of Disposition offer a substantive transformation in “thought” about how people achieve a perspective on things in life. It refers to an orchestrated, systemic and revolutionary new world-view resulting in a “change” of societies, cultures, and marketplaces due to behavioral perspective. This is today often called “systems theory,” which sees a web of relationships coalescing to become something greater than the parts. Individuals must be able to look at things from a perspective that they are always changing and evolving into new forms – thinking “out-of-the-box!” We are doomed to a slow death unless radical change occurs in the way we think. Change your way of thinking or die a slow death (i.e. Mistakes are a fact of life that requires an eraser; it is the ability to respond to error that counts. You can’t live without an eraser).

The General Orders are broad, community-wide “need statements,” designed to encompass a variety of related issues in a person’s life or within the life cycle of an organization. These related issues are referred to as “Guiding Objectives,” which are specific items that need to be addressed. The Guiding Strategies (developed to fit current and future circumstance) are the methods identified for addressing the Guiding Objectives, and the Guiding Policies are the specific action steps that are recommended to implement the Guiding Strategies. The General Orders, all eleven of them, offer the ability to explore implications in an open and reflective manner and reinforce each other in providing a coherency and wholeness often lacking in life cycles (i.e. Know yourself as a “Leader” and seek continuous improvement).

The Strategy Forward – Establishing Professional Mastery. The traditional values are the foundation of the modern day; that was yesterday. Tomorrow, you have an opportunity to create commitment and the needed momentum to establish, publish, share, and teach a different set of life’s code, values, and ethics to journey into the future. After much hard work, you are prepared to develop a strategy to move forward and plan the next steps to target critical successes for winning the Future Picture. What a legacy you will leave when executed with personal and professional bearing for others to follow. This is the way of the future. This is a new chapter (i.e. Remove the Jars’ Lid: Allow for profound growth by employing Transformational Thinking to navigate the maze of organizational politics – and the schedule to do so – to accept change).

The Centers of Gravity. Just as time changes, so does the internal and external influence in your life and in the life cycle of an organization. The Centers of Gravity are the dynamics within a process that offer the greatest impact on the overall system when change happens. They offer a high level of “value” and return on your energy “investment.” When combined with the concept of parallel deposits (creating energy from various perspectives in a short period of time), the Centers of Gravity make possible the seemingly impossible task of realizing success in changing paradigms. The Centers of Gravity places significant influence on the five established epicenters of any changing system to receive desired effects: Leadership, Processes, Infrastructure, Population, and Action Units.

In summary, a Memorandum of Understanding, your blueprint for strategic leadership, offers an opportunity to free up our actions as public servants. It is empowering, it is enabling and it grounds us in a public way on the fundamentals that we all must share. There is no ethical malaise. It is important to realize that the new is not a finding from what has been lost. Rather, we are like the journey of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz story in search of a brain (brain power in this context); the Tin Woodsman in search of a heart, and the Cowardly Lion in search of courage. Your value system is intact and has been with you the entire way thus far. The Memorandum of Understanding simply articulates and reaffirms the core value and behavioral perspective that already underlie your personal and professional appearance and conduct to achieve significant growth.

Develop, learn and instruct the Memorandum of Understanding well. It will make the difference between winning and losing in every aspect of your life – personally and professionally – and maintain a positive team building attitude.

Finally, Maintain a Positive Team Building Attitude

To lead most effectively, the leader’s attitude needs to be strongly and deeply rooted in the dynamics of the team and its fortitude, particularly when relating with individuals who are also seeking to grow themselves and the organization they are a part. The Memorandum of Understanding has been used to lead successful transformation efforts for organization and teams to achieve their goals in and away from the organization and the battlefields of life. A paradigm-changing approach, the Memorandum of Understanding concurrently addresses multiple disciplines across the entire transformation life cycle; enabling leaders and teams help people build a stronger, more responsive and resilient organizations.

Rather than relating to a series of ongoing problematic behaviors as a hindrance or as a threat to your objective, relate to the development of your Memorandum of Understanding as a guide for how you need to build teamwork and team spirit and fortitude to meet the inevitable challenge of change and effective leadership.

If you would like to receive a copy of our Memorandum of Understanding to guide you with developing your own, simply send me an email at Dpitts@thebisongroup.com. God Speed as you continue on your path to experience your own unique state of Leadership for Teamwork, using team building maneuvers to take your people and team to new levels and conquer the challenge of overcoming the “fears of change” across the organizations and teams you are leading.

Damian D. “Skipper” Pitts, the Founder and Chairman of the Bison Group ® Corporation, is charged with leading a team of U.S. Marines turned business professionals specializing in transformational leadership, organizational behavior, team building and strategic execution. He is the author of 8 books including his most recent, Business WARFIGHTING For GREAT Teams, 11 published journals and his upcoming release, The Seven “T’s” of Oz: Getting Results through Critical Thinking, Effective Decision-Making and Team Building Maneuvers. Additionally, he has authored his flagship executive education military-style leadership and organizational behavior program, “The Process of LeaderShaping,” that is currently being taught at Temple University in Philadelphia. The program includes 15 modules and 45 lectures/lessons, providing a wealth of summary, discussion, and applicable presentation material for participants to execute strategy to achieve their own level of “Personal Proficiency,” while increasing their state of “Professional Mastery.”

Author: Damian D. Pitts
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Seven Reasons Organizational Culture Matters

culture synergyWe spend 40 . . . or 45 . . . or 50 . . . or more hours at work each week. Many of us spend more time with those we work with than we do our families. For us to be content and fulfilled people, that time must be valuable for more than a dollar. . .

We want to be engaged in our work. We yearn for work that is enjoyable, meaningful and engaging. When we are engaged we are safer on the job, more productive and more willing and able to delight Customers.

It is for these basic reasons that organizational culture matters. It is the right thing for an organization to do – to think about the work environment, working relationships and “how we do things here.”

Focusing on building and sustaining an organizational culture is one way of showing that people are the organization’s most valuable asset.

There are of course many other bottom line business reasons to focus on and build organizational culture. Here are seven of those reasons.

A strong culture is a talent-attractor. Your organizational culture is part of the package that prospective employees look at when assessing your organization. Gone are the days of selecting the person you want from a large eager pool. The talent market is tighter and those looking for a new organization are more selective than ever. The best people want more than a salary and good benefits. They want an environment they can enjoy and succeed in.

A strong culture is talent-retainer. How likely are people to stay if they have other options and don’t love where they are? Your organizational culture is a key component of a person’s desire to stay.

A strong culture engages people. People want to be engaged in their work. According to a Gallup survey at least 22 million American workers are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” – this loss of productivity is estimated to be worth between $250-$300 Billion annually. Your culture can engage people. Engagement creates greater productivity, which can impact profitability. Need I say more?

A strong culture creates energy and momentum. Build a culture that is vibrant and allows people to be valued and express themselves and you will create a very real energy. That positive energy will permeate the organization and create a new momentum for success. Energy is contagious and will build on itself, reinforcing the culture and the attractiveness of the organization.

A strong culture changes the view of “work.” Most people have a negative connotation of the word work. Work equals drudgery, 9-5, “the salt mine.” When you create a culture that is attractive, people’s view of “going to work” will change. Would you rather see work as drudgery or a joy? Which do you think your employees would prefer? Which will lead to the best results?

A strong culture creates greater synergy. A strong culture brings people together. When people have the opportunity to (and are expected to) communicate and get to know each other better, they will find new connections. These connections will lead to new ideas and greater productivity – in other words, you will be creating synergy. Literally, 1 + 1 + right culture = more than 10. How is that for leverage?

A strong culture makes everyone more successful. Any one of the other six reasons should be reason enough to focus on organizational culture. But the bottom line is that an investment of time, talent and focus on organizational culture will give you all of the above benefits. Not only is creating a better culture a good thing to do for the human capital in the business, it makes good business sense too.

Hopefully this article has helped you see that time spent enhancing your organizational culture will be time wisely invested. Regardless of your current culture, it is never too late to enhance it and to begin creating the benefits described above.

What are you waiting for?

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group (http://KevinEikenberry.com), a learning consulting company. To receive a free Special Report on leadership that includes resources, ideas, and advice go to http://www.kevineikenberry.com/leadership.asp or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.

Author: Kevin Eikenberry
Article Source: EzineArticles.com
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Blasting Through Employee Anxiety – A Leadership Role in Times of Change

Managing Change Great amounts of change in organizations, such as downsizing, reengineering, restructuring and reorganization, have occurred in recent years. These changes bring about anxiety for employees, although over the years they have become as comfortable as possible with these changes and their anxieties. Change is very much a part of our everyday lives; therefore, change leadership needs to be part of any leader’s essential skills. The ability to manage a successful change initiative stems from the leader’s personal ability to handle change. In an effective leader, personal experience is the best foundation for any attempt to lead others through change. The manner in which leaders handle change within themselves will shape how they handle change in their leadership role and therefore in their employees. Since the number of changes will only increase leaders must prepare their followers and organizations to adapt to the new economic environment This paper seeks to identify the characteristics of leaders who initiate, guide, and provoke change.


The most important factor for leaders to consider in times of change for an organization is that they must deal with cultural (norms) and behavioral (emotions) obstacles to change. They must also consider Schein’s (2004) three key features of organizational life: the firm’s culture (basic assumptions, values and artifacts), the leadership of the change effort, and the existing network of power. Leaders must identify and understand the current culture in order to bring about any real change. Rather than trying to change the culture which may take years, the leadership should work with and through the current culture to transform the organization. The first step is that they need to foster what Kotter (1996) advises as a sense of urgency within the organization. Kotter states that “a higher rate of urgency does not imply ever present panic, anxiety, or fear; it means a state in which complacency is virtually absent” (p. 43). Once a sense of urgency is established, Kotter continues with the thought that only the leadership can blast through the resistance with motivation actions and alter the culture and behaviors with support from every level within the organization. Andrews et al (2008) argue that assumptions and practice norms can thwart the conception, adoption, and implementation of critical actions such as change because the problems of implementing change reflect long-standing distinctive organizational cultures.

Useem (2009), Wharton management professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management, on the other hand argues that a key criterion for leadership is boldness in taking on the most challenging problems. Being pragmatic is another example of an important leadership trait. The possibility of being able to acquire and use these characteristics represents a positive perspective for organizations, employees and leaders alike. Leaders who lead and guide employees in organizational changes take risks but not carelessly or without planning. Furthermore, they encourage others to be risk takers by providing an environment that makes it safe for employees reluctant to change. Being an effective communicator and listener are also key components to being a proactive, risks taking leader who can manage a change leadership initiative.

We see this type of leadership in Fritz Henderson at General Motors. Effective leaders are proactive and confront rather than avoid, anticipate rather than react to situations and circumstances in their industries. GM has had to take a long look internally at the barriers to success and its emergence from bankruptcy. In the October 19, 2009, Workforce Management Journal, Henderson admits to a complete overhaul of General Motors, especially a cultural change in order to sustain the organization for an additional 100 years. This proactive cultural change initiative includes risk-taking, accountability, speed of decision making and customer and product focus. Henderson believes that a leader’s values have an impact on employee successes; he and his leadership team share the belief that employee learning, mentoring and coaching are of primary importance. This common ground appears to facilitate the development of a new clear and compelling vision for GM.

Schein and Kotter, as quoted by Flatt and Kowalczyk (2009) reveal that individuals within an organization such as GM share a common value. The common value is an advantage that Henderson (2009) can use to demonstrate the characteristic of valuing human resources; this manifests in three dimensions: valuing the contributions and efforts of co-workers, relating effectively with others, and fostering collaboration. This characteristic of effective leaders of change connects with a leader’s ability to listen, evaluate and communicate with employees. Henderson’s communicating and listening skills are the basis for his ability to articulate a vision, develop a shared mission, and express the belief that the human capital in GM is valued.


Contemporary leadership as mentioned by the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management (2009) includes individuals who are prepared to lead multinational organizations in today’s economic environment with diverse workforces, and a demand for high performance which make it imperative for organizations to become more flexible, results-oriented, and have faster decision-making processes. Organizations are finding that leaders must be capable of not only understand the environment, but also the level of anxiety and resistance to employees brought about by change.

Resistance can build because of poor communication which fails to legitimize the change, misrepresents the chances of success and fails to call people to action. Leaders need to be able to adapt their leadership style to the level of resistance within their organization when it comes to organizational changes. Dover in his article in April 16, 2007’s Managing Organizational and Social Change states that researchers argue that resistance is a convenient label, something which change agents or leaders can use to make sense of reactions to their initiatives, absolving them of their responsibilities if the project fails. Dover concludes, however, that the danger is that this label can divert attention away from the change initiative, even contributing to the level of resistance by failing to recognize that change often breaks an understood and expected pattern of cooperation.


Chris Argyris (1993) in his book Knowledge for Action: A Guide to Overcoming Barriers to Organizational Change in chapter 2 outlines the steps for leaders to facilitate change within an organization:

(1) Interview and observe the players,
(2) Organize the findings for learning and action,
(3) Conduct meaningful feedback sessions,
(4) Facilitate the change seminar with live cases, and
(5) Manage the clash of expectations and needs to build new team leadership, getting feedback from below, and discussing and correcting out-of-control routines
The steps laid out by Argyris (1993) account for communication as a last step because “people under stress, that is, those who feel threatened or put at risk by some force beyond their control, experience ‘mental noise’ that can cause them to lose up to 80 percent of their ability to process information” states Wojtecki & Peters, 2000, p. 3). The level of anxiety associated with change makes it necessary to have a plan and a strategy in place prior to communicating the actions to the organization. Leaders need to filter the communication to disseminate the right information to the right people at the right time. Thus, Miller and Monge (1986) suggest that information or too much information prior to a strong change plan can assure resistance from employees.

Markus Amanto (2009) in his change leadership model website discusses the Sense of Coherence model (SOC) by Aaron Antonovsky. SOC deals with the manner in which employees handle change. The higher and stronger the level of an individual’s Sense of Coherence, the better the individual’s ability to cope with change. SOC consists of three different parts: meaningfulness, manageability and comprehensiveness.
1. Meaningfulness – The degree the individual finds a meaning in what is happening.
2. Comprehensiveness – Can I understand what is going on? Am I getting the kind of information I need to understand what is happening? And is it delivered in such a way to fit my preference of communication?
3. Manageability – Do I feel I have the tools, internal and external, do deal with the change? Do I feel I have access to the resources needed?


As leaders begin to think of what changes their people and organizations need, they must be aware of the factors that require managing in order for change to occur. According to Glaser (2004), leaders’ biggest challenge is leading the change. Hence, in order for leaders to succeed in the form of loyalty, respect and engagement from employees, they have to reshape themselves first, then their organization. Leaders need to acclimatize their employees slowly to the new change environment instead of leading with the same old autocratic style and expect change to succeed. In the words of Glaser (2004), groups have the potential for mistrust, doubt, and animosity; effective leadership would engage employees by developing behaviors that recognize, guide, and work through change anxiety in order to maximize the potential for acceptance, regardless of roles and titles.

Leaders need to be able to recognize shifts in the environment and steer their organization to take the initiative rather than be responsive to those changes. They are aware of the realities of their environment and thus guide the organization to rethink the vision and mission to coincide with the new realities. Henderson (2009) has taken the initiative to change the focus of General Motors away from maintaining the status quo to exploring various options by asking his leadership team to assess the present, identify gaps and determine a course of action.


Being a good listener is one of the foremost skills of a leader, especially when dealing with change. The ability to understand different individuals’ needs, to make them feel both seen and heard is also critical. Keeping employees informed of factors that affect not only their positions but also their lives is essential during a time of high anxiety and uncertainty. Successful change leadership begins prior to the time it is put into effect; by building trust and respectful relationships with employees, leaders are much more able to manage change initiatives with those they lead.

Author: R. Kenny Leblanc
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Organizational Culture – 4 Effective Tips to Business Succession

The real secret to succession planning is to think beyond a person as successor and think of the business transforming. Evolution is a better framework to think of an organization. We know humans die…organizations can live…if they chose to evolve. A great way to focus on succession planning is to think beyond the individual and frame the discussion on the organization. Here are 4 tips to begin succession planning.

1. Decide what the organization stands for. If it’s not clear, then you’ve discovered one of the first issues to work on. Today all sorts of words are used to formalize this, but the simple and honest answer is what in the world your purpose is. What difference do you make in the lives of customers? What difference do you make in the lives of employees? Search for why the business exists. You may be lucky to still have the founder of the business. Founders are a treasure of soulful purposes why the business started and exists. If you’re talking about profit, sales and customers. Try again. A powerful example we share is words from our founders…”to provide, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Search for the words which make you shudder.

2. Make clear what you wish to protect. Succession planning is about choice. If the company were to lose all the assets today…no brick and mortar. What is left? People, values, purpose. Of course the easy and no brain-er is protect assets, protect money. But is that really the answer? You should quake a bit when you’ve discovered what you wish to protect. Is it honesty, courage, integrity, responsibility? Move over to the soulful side and you’ll protect the most important.

3. Assess what’s missing now. Before beginning with the job posting, stop and think what is missing? Go deeper and think about what it feels to work in the organization. If you’ve honestly answered the first two questions, it is very clear what is missing. Beware, profits, sales, efficiency measures are economic measures and only lagging indicators of how the job is getting done. If people are engaged, energized, honest and creative…the economics follow. If economics are struggling. It’s the organizational culture.

If you’d like more information about Organizational culture download your free book Organizational Culture.

Wiff and Krutza are leadership coaches specializing in organizational culture. http://lighthouse-leadership.com. They have been involved in just about every important phase of business.

Author: Mike Krutza
Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Transformational Leadership Theory – The 4 Key Components in Leading Change and Managing Change

Transformational leadership theory is all about leadership that creates positive change in the followers whereby they take care of each other’s interests and act in the interests of the group as a whole. James MacGregor Burns first brought the concept of transformational leadership to prominence in his extensive research into leadership.

“Essentially the leader’s task is consciousness-raising on a wide plane. The leader’s fundamental act is to induce people to be aware or conscious of what they feel – to feel their true needs so strongly, to define their values so meaningfully, that they can be moved to purposeful action.”

In this leadership style, the leader enhances the motivation, moral and performance of his follower group. So according to MacGregor – transformational leadership is all about values and meaning, and a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order needs.

At times of organisational change, and big step change, people do feel insecure, anxious and low in energy – so in these situations and especially in these difficult times, enthusiasm and energy are infectious and inspiring.

And yet so many organisational changes fail because leaders pay attention to the changes they are facing instead of the transitions people must make to accommodate them.

In my view it is the responsibility of the director leading the change to supply an infusion of positive energy.
The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

The transformational approach also depends on winning the trust of people – which is made possible by the unconscious assumption that they too will be changed or transformed in some way by following the leader.

This is often seen in military commanders and wartime political leaders. An example of this would be the way in which Lady Thatcher – as Prime Minister of the UK Government during the Falklands War in 1982 – was able to engender an enhanced feeling of British national identity amongst the UK population.

Sounds like this leadership style is ideally suited to change management, doesn’t it? However – this approach requires absolute integrity and personal behaviour that is consistent and resonant with your vision and message.

I can recall a ridiculous situation, at one UK company I was involved with, where the directors were attempting to effect a culture change of greater inter-departmental trust and communication yet still retained a separate directors dining room and specially allocated car parking places closest to the office front door!

OK here’s the important bit – how NOT to apply transformational leadership theory to change management

– Be preoccupied with power, position, politics and perks
– Stay focused on the short-term
– Be hard data oriented
– Focus on tactical issues
– Work within existing structures and systems
– Concentrate on getting the job done
– Focus processes and activities that guarantee short-term profits

Doesn’t all this just sound like a description of a typical good project manager with a task driven mentality?

And hey, I have nothing against this style of leadership and management. There is a time and place for the Attila the Hun school of leadership. I have done it many times myself and very effectively – and with no regrets.

But, this leadership style is not enough in a change management situation and particularly in the current climate.

The four components of the transformational leadership style are:

(1) Charisma or idealised influence – the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways and displays convictions and takes stands that cause followers to identify with the leader who has a clear set of values and acts as a role model for the followers.

(2) Inspirational motivation – the degree to which the leader articulates a vision that is appeals to and inspires the followers with optimism about future goals, and offers meaning for the current tasks in hand.

(3) Intellectual stimulation – the degree to which the leader challenges assumptions, stimulates and encourages creativity in the followers – by providing a framework for followers to see how they connect [to the leader, the organisation, each other, and the goal] they can creatively overcome any obstacles in the way of the mission.

(4) Personal and individual attention – the degree to which the leader attends to each individual follower’s needs and acts as a mentor or coach and gives respect to and appreciation of the individual’s contribution to the team. This fulfills and enhances each individual team members’ need for self-fulfillment, and self-worth – and in so doing inspires followers to further achievement and growth.

Transformational leadership applied in a change management context, is ideally suited to the holistic and wide view perspective of a programme based approach to change management and as such is key element of successful strategies for managing change.

And, to ensure that you ARE employing successful strategies for managing change – that are appropriate to your organisation – you need to know how to apply: (a) these transformational leadership skills, AND (b) how to apply the supporting programme management based processes – to ensure that you avoid the catastrophic 70% failure rate of ALL business change initiatives.

For more on this: ” Transformational leadership theory

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Stephen Warrilow, based in Bristol, works with companies across the UK providing specialist support to directors delivery significant change initiatives. Stephen has 25 years cross sector experience with 100+ companies in mid range corporate, larger SME and corporate environments.

Author: Stephen Warrilow
Article Source: EzineArticles.com