Revenue and profits are frighteningly under plan. Changes in the environment have made the organization’s differentiation less meaningful. The current leadership team seems unwilling or unable to align on the need to transform the business. This lack of alignment cascades into the organization, resulting in inter-departmental conflict and paralysis.
The above scenario is common with many of TBG’s clients. The typical first response from leadership:
- Schedule an offsite.
- Have finance describe the current fiscal crisis and the consequences if not addressed.
- The CEO (with the support of her team) presents a strategy for how to address the challenges.
- The CEO describes the ELT’s commitment to behave differently in the future.
- Leaders below the ELT are implored to become more courageous, challenge the status quo, and lead the transformation.
- Accountability becomes the word of the day.
- The leaders in the room don’t say it out loud, but the “atmospherics” communicate skepticism, cynicism and a lack of understanding about how to translate the need to transform into new behavior.
Often, by the time the organization reaches out to TBG, 6 months or a year have passed, and nothing really has changed.
At TBG, we understand some fundamental truths that lie at the core of why the typical response described above won’t work:
- Organizations don’t transform, people transform.
- You can’t lead a transformation unless you are transforming yourself. As Einstein said,“You can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.”
- Transformation does not happen at an offsite. Transformation occurs in the conversations that leaders have with their followers every day when they choose whether to reinforce the status quo or risk advocating for the transformation.
- Transformation does not happen by trying to change people’s values and beliefs. Transformation requires:
- A vision (or destination) that makes the journey of transformation seem worth it.
- A critical mass of leaders, both formal and informal, that are driving the organization in a new direction (what John Kotter calls a “guiding coalition”).
- Changing the conditions (i.e. changing both the environment and reward systems) to reward where you are going, not where you have been.
The following are six core principles that underly all successful transformations
- Transformation requires a sustained effort over multiple years.
- A guiding coalition must be built by the leader through on-going facilitated meetings where candid feedback and dialogue are welcomed, and progress is measured.
- The leader must make clear that the decision to transform is non-negotiable and that while debate behind closed doors among the guiding coalition is welcomed, in public every leader must be able to communicate the new vision with enthusiasm and support.
- It is the job of every leader to help communicate how the new vision must be translated into new priorities and behavior in their teams.
- Executive coaching is a critical tool for supporting the transformation of key individuals who are leading the organizational transformation.
- Leaders who can’t or won’t align with the new vision after a reasonable period must leave the organization (or be asked to leave).
If your organization is struggling with transformation, The Bailey Group can help. Send me an email at email@example.com and let’s start a conversation.