When Executives Blink

tom flick

My colleague Gregg LeStage, Executive Vice President for Kotter International, where he is responsible for global business development makes a great point about the little things that leaders can do to allow for big change to stay on track. Enjoy the Read.  ~Tom.

Picture this: You’re an executive responsible for setting your company’s strategic direction. It’s mid-year, and your organization has spent six months focused on a strategy that requires large-scale change. You might even call it a transformation.

Your reports and their reports have been busy planning the execution, but obstacles known and mysterious have caused delays. You’re behind schedule. Perhaps, after delving deep, your people have realized how difficult this will be. Are they wondering, perhaps hoping, it will go the way of past initiatives (a.k.a. flavor of the month, quarter, year)? The bigger the plan, the greater that guilty wish for a slow fade.

What is the leading indicator your people look for when doubt is taking root? They are waiting for you – their top executive(s) – to imply or to hint in word, deed, or inaction that you aren’t committed to change. They are waiting for you to blink or, worse, to look away. This is the signal that the initiative will eventually die and/or that they won’t be held to account for its lack of results.

What have you done lately to embody the change you seek? What consistent words and persistent actions have you used to demonstrate your commitment? Even at the half-year point, the answer to this question may determine the success of your initiative.

It’s not too late to begin showing others you are still committed. And, counterintuitively, this requires very little of your time and energy. Hold your gaze: Shine a spotlight on any efforts toward the change. Celebrate progress. Reinforce urgency by broadcasting the vision, again and again. You’ll find that your efforts pay off in progress that keeps the transformation on track. With their eyes on the horizon of success you seek, your people will move your organization towards it.

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about how to embody the change you want.