Thursday, May 19, 2016

Values, culture and change

When an organisation or group has a change of leadership there will inevitable be change.  The direction, strategies and way the organisation led will no doubt be different from what has gone on before.  This is not a good or bad thing.  
Change is healthy and needed for freshness to occur.  Every project reaches an inevitable end, every leader grows tired, every strategy will eventually become  outdated.  And so change happens, a broom sweeps clean and a new leader works to create an environment that they think will take the organisation/group into success.
Now not everyone is going to appreciate the change.  Some people will embrace it, others will be neutral and some people will get really ticked off as they may not be able to see the how and why of decisions made and they may not agree with the leadership style or approach being employed. 
Here are a few reflective thoughts I have had in regards to my recent experience of just this type of situation occurring.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate - when a new leader takes over it is important that they communicate what is going on and why. There can never be too much communication in this regard. When new members are being brought into the team, when older members are moving on, when strategies are being discussed these things need to be communicated so that everyone knows what direction is being taken and why. 
  • You just might suck - if someone challenges the decisions you've made, asks why are we travelling in this direction?, or just doesn't like the way you as a leader are doing your job - suck it up.  Not everyone is going to agree with you. Everyone isn't going to think that the sun shines out of your butt just because you're in charge. Maybe the way you're leading and the decisions you make suck. We all do it from time to time. Own up, face reality and figure out how to fix it.
  • Treat people well - in a boxing match the referee tells the participants that they must "defend themselves at all times".  The same goes for people holding leadership positions but think of it this way "be professional at all times". Not inviting some people but making sure others know to come to meetings because they disagree with you is unprofessional. Making decisions as a leader with no consultation from others and thinking you're 100% right all the time is unprofessional. Changing strategy, direction and invariably the culture of an organisation without communication is unprofessional. 
  • And the same goes for followers/participants - be professional.  If you don't like a decision that's been made then say so - but - in a professional, calm and open way.  You might just be the one in the wrong. 
  • Find ways to move ahead that are mutually agreed upon if you can't figure out ways to work together. If change is really hard, uncommunicated, you feel you've been treated badly, the culture is so different that what it used to be, you no longer feel that your contribution is actually making any sort of difference - then find a mutually agreed way to leave. 
But when things don't go so well, you're made to feel like what you've done, added and contributed previously is not wanted or warranted, when you get left out of meetings on purpose and are unable to challenge decisions made - then it's well and truly time to go. 
And here's another thing - 
  • If someone does decide they want to move on or that the approach you're taking isn't something they can support - the very least you can do is acknowledge the person for what they've previously to support the group. Even just an email goes a long way towards letting someone know you actually valued what they did do - even if there is disagreement now. Not acknowledging a person and ignoring them says a lot about you as a person. Try being the bigger person in the situation. 
Change is good. Change is inevitable. But the way you make those changes, communicate them and lead others on the journey is, in my mind, a far greater indicator of success as a leader than simply getting results in your own. 
And if you take over a position and people disagree with you and your approach then make it easy for people to part ways with you, Its a far better outcome for everyone concerned. 
Okay so this piece is me mostly talking to myself about how I feel about a particular situation. This piece does not in any way reflect upon my employer as this relates to an external organisation I was a party of. And to be honest if I had of followed my own advice (as written above) then I probably would have done things differently and would still feel that I could be part of something good.  So please consider this to be a reflective piece.

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