I just read an enlightening post by Scott Keller on HBR called “How to Get Senior Leaders to Change.” I encourage you to read it; the most intriguing aspect of the article (for me) was the research he lays out regarding the discrepancy between two main facts:
Fact 1. Most leaders believe in the quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Fact 2. Most leaders don’t believe they are the ones that need changing.
Although I’m not surprised, I find this interesting. And it led me to think about our book, The SuperSTAR Leadership Model: Good Boss, Bad Boss – Which One Are You? Without hesitation, I would put “open to change” as a characteristic true of the best boss. But, then it hit me. It’s not that these leaders aren’t open to change – it’s that – somehow, someway – they think “the change” doesn’t apply to them. They consider themselves immune. Is it out of ignorance? Arrogance? Stubbornness? What could it be?
The only reasonable explanation I could brainstorm was this: they must have a hard time identifying what they need to change. There is a difference between knowing what you need to change and not changing it, compared to not knowing what you need to change and staying the same. One thing differentiates those two alternatives? INFORMATION. Knowing versus not knowing all comes down to data. Do these leaders have the details of the direction they’re supposed to head in?
Actually, let me make this personal: Do you have the details of the direction your team would like you to move toward?
- If not…why? Have you asked? Have you listened? Have you probed? Have you solicited feedback?
- If so…what are you doing about it? How are you using the information you have obtained?
Your answers to these questions is pivotal. But, it’s your action that will define your level of resistance to change. Are you really all that willing to acknowledge that you have to be accountable to a certain level of change yourself? And if you are, what action are you taking to communicate to your team that you want to be a part of the change you keep advocating others pursue?
Start here: ASK for feedback. And sincerely ask. Schedule one-on-one time with your team members, so that you intentionally create a space where you can solicit feedback from your team. If you do it casually or randomly, your team won’t know you’re serious – and they won’t offer up their opinions. Clearly, giving your boss feedback isn’t the easiest thing to do – so, you need to do everything you can to make sure the process is one they want a part in.
Harold Wilson put it morbidly but truly, when he said, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.” So, tell us now – what are you doing to initiate change within yourself?