Steve Woodruff and I couldn’t be happier to be welcoming our leadership colleague Mike Henry Sr. as this week’s Leadership Chat Guest Host. Mike is the Founder and fearless leader of the Lead Change Group, of which I am a member.
The group’s mission is to “Encourage, Energize and Equip one another to apply character-based leadership to Lead Change…” and its vision includes “instigating a leadership revolution.”
Now, if you look up “revolution” in the dictionary you’ll find phrases like, “a sudden, complete or marked change.” This is not a tiny little process change Mike and our Lead Change Group are envisioning. Rather, it’s a significant shift to character-based leadership and to leading from within ourselves, of which I am an ardent devotee.
This leads us to the question we’ll be pondering, discussing and debating tomorrow night at Leadership Chat, “What does it take for a leader to effectively lead change?”
These are the attributes I believe are required to lead change effectively, with a clear purpose, and not solely for the sake of change.
A leader needs the will to change and the will to withstand resistance to change. They need the will to help others through the change psychologically and emotionally, especially when followers experience fear throughout the process.
What’s empowering about change in the larger world, and broader sense, is that you do not have to wait for someone’s permission to lead. (Of course, this will be different in a corporate environment.)
Mike talks eloquently about how we often wait for circumstances or other people to give us permission to create the change we want to be in the world. Instead, as Gandhi advocated, we should simply give ourselves permission to “be the change you want to see in the world.”
2. A Clear Vision of the Change
To nurture and drive dramatic change effectively requires a vision of a better future in which the leader believes wholeheartedly, and toward which s/he moves deliberately. Visionary leadership makes all the difference.
This vision has to be clear, not muddled. The leader must not only see it in their mind but know what it will feel like with all five of their senses when they’ve arrived. For, in creating this clear understanding of what they are driving toward, they will know more instinctively when they are being thrown off course.
Mike asks a brilliant question when it comes to ordaining our own vision for change, “What problem are you here (on this Earth) to solve?” And I’ll take that one step further, “What will the world look and feel like when you do?”
3. The Ability to Clearly Communicate the Vision
This is critical and I believe a downfall of many leaders. If a leader cannot clearly communicate their vision – what the world will be like through all five senses when it has been achieved – then people will be hesitant and perhaps fearful of following the leader and bringing this vision to life.
Importantly, the leader’s vision has to be in the best interest of followers or they will not support it. The vision needs to be shared in a way that helps followers see the vision through their own eyes: what will the world be like for them, the security they will feel, how their needs will be met, etc… In essence, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs should be in the back of the leader’s mind as they lay out their vision and make it relevant to their followers.
4. Passion that Empowers Inspiration
Some might debate this, but if I’m going to undertake an initiative for change and take people from the precontemplative stage of change to action, then I know I’m going to have to have to be passionate about my vision and capable of inspiring others to follow. Otherwise, my energy will wane, and then too will my followers.
This is one area where character-based leadership becomes imperative. The ability to say, “I am the change I want to see in the world,” to know you are leading from within yourself, and to make this evident to the world, becomes an inspiration to others.
5. Clear Strategies and Tactics for Execution
It goes without saying that vision and inspiration will never be enough without clear strategies to bring the vision to life and tactics that are well thought-out. Strategies must align with the vision in order to create the picture you’re driving toward, and tactics must be practical and empower followers at the same time.
It is for this stage that Mike talks about bringing the best of who you are and empowering the best of others. When your followers are in roles that bring out their skills and abilities to make a positive difference, then you are poised to create change together.
What would you add to this list of requirements for leading change?
Please share in the comments and join the conversation at Leadership Chat, tomorrow night at 8:00 pm Eastern Time on Twitter! Mike, Steve Woodruff, and I are eagerly anticipating your insights and hope you’ll share your experiences with us.
Photo is from the Lead Change Group Home Page.