I had the honor to keynote at the Human Capital Institute’s Learning and Leadership Development Conference last week, and spoke about the challenges (and opportunities) we have in building Change Intelligent leaders and cultures. See if this story sounds familiar:
Amy is the SVP of HR of a large manufacturing organization that has grown significantly by acquisition in the last decade. She reports directly to the CEO and sits on the Executive Council – a powerful position of influence. So, why is Amy so frustrated? During today’s Executive Council meeting, here were some of the many problems raised by the group (and not for the first time):
- We acquired some of our divisions years ago. Yet, they are still operating like independent companies, some even overtly competing with each other. Where’s the synergy?
- We still have legacy systems in each of the acquired businesses. Moving to a unified ERP system has been painful, and our business processes are still far from consistent. When are we going to realize the efficiencies we hoped to achieve?
- With all our internal problems, we’re missing the boat on what are competitors are doing to connect with customers. We’re losing customers because we’re lagging in adopting the digital technologies we need to serve the new generation of buyers. What’s our plan to stay relevant in the marketplace?
Amy knows there’s no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution to the myriad of problems in her organization. But (or “and”), Amy also knows that the flipside of every problem is opportunity.
What’s underlying each of the problems Amy’s organization is facing? CHANGE!
- Changing from separate businesses to one company
- Changing from legacy systems to consistent technologies and business processes
- Changing from outmoded methods to digitally-enhanced ways to connect and serve customers
Each of these problems needs to be tackled with very specific action plans. But (or “and”) there is also the opportunity to build an enabling foundation to support solving each of these problems (and all the others that will inevitably follow). That foundation is “learning to change.”
Each “change problem” facing your organization is a gold mine of capacity-building opportunities. Changing the mindset from “problem to be solved” to BOTH “problem to be solved” AND “learning opportunity to be leveraged” opens the possibility for new leadership behaviors that are the hallmark of genuine individual, team, and organizational agility.
Let’s take Amy’s example, and she how she can spark meaningful dialogue with her Executive Council colleagues:
So much of leadership development remains “above the neck,” whereas with the constant buzz of change all around us in our organizations we have continual “pop-up learning labs” right in front of us all day, every day. The time has never been better to capitalize on real-time changes happening in your organization, to embed new routines and habits to develop leadership capabilities real-time, to accelerate learning and radically upskill leaders at all levels. As more and more organizations retool their approach to performance management, such an approach fits perfectly with the move toward continual real-time coaching conversations between managers and staff.
We can help the organizations they serve reap huge dividends that will exponentially increase over time by constantly challenging leaders to ask themselves these questions:
- How can we exploit “this problem” as a learning opportunity for ourselves?
- How can we utilize “this problem” as a way to build the leadership capabilities of our high potential talent and next generation of leaders?
- How can we re-conceptualize “this problem” into a mechanism for developing change leadership capacity for our organization, fostering an agile culture of continuous learning?
In this way, we move beyond supporting the business strategy to driving the business strategy – as well as foster an agile, innovative culture and agile, innovative leaders.
Want to learn how one organization put these ideas into action, and the bottom-line results they achieved? Read this case study! For more information, visit staging.changecatalysts.com to download two free chapters of the best-selling book Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks, watch video and listen.