Exploring Change Leadership Perspectives

As a change leader, if you’re meriting your salt, you’ll have the big picture. Usually change leaders focus too much on the big picture at the expense of the business of their firms. The ‘big picture’ I am talking about is you know why you’re developing what you are, you know how, what, when, and everything there is to know about the work at hand.

Now that we’ve set you’re in the ‘know’ as they say, you must keep everything you’re doing in prospect, top to bottom. Now you say, “Alex, what does that mean?” It’s rather simple really, it means you retain your feet on the ground and don’t get like one lady I knew who was leading a large change project, and the implementation of SAP in a new company organized based on numerous mergers.

In her case, when I challenged her as to how much responsibility she had with the field folks in designing the future, as she called it, she proudly told me none, “Alex, we are planning the future, the past doesn’t matter.” Well, that may be true but you better know just how big the leap from yesterday to today is before you step off that mountain of change.

The principal thing you the change leader must keep in perspective is that from your vantage point in that higher helicopter you’re flying is very different than the one of your grunt walking down on the ground. What looks like a small change to you may be a giant change when you’re down there climbing the mountain of daily activity, just trying to stay current with your job as it is today.

Try to visualize a gearbox in a big Caterpillar tractor. Assume you are looking at it from the side and it is a pyramid shape, with big gears on top and descending to the bottom they become smaller and there are more of them. Now assume that you are that big gear on top and the workers in your organization are those tiny gears at the bottom.

When you move your gear a little bit it’s no big deal, small movement, small change. But if you are that guy on the bottom, that row of tiny gears, you are spinning around like a top your kid just sent spinning. What appears to be a little change to you is a big change down at the bottom of your organization. To not be aware of or worst, to ignore that perspective will be fatal to your change efforts. It’s a pretty simple matter.

And this manageable matter doesn’t come naturally. Even when you ‘get it’ you’re going to have trouble getting the other ‘big gears’ to get on board. There is a capacity to worry ‘dictating expected behavior’ with real leadership. Many so-called leaders like to say, “Oh, they can do it, it’s not that much extra work.” The dilemma is that if they don’t work to get the right perspective and know the real work of their organization, top to bottom, they just overload the people and results suffer.

When results suffer who do they blame? They blame the people when it all started with them anyway. You don’t want to be that kind of change leader, you want to have the right perspective and deliver the right results, to do that you need prospect. You need to ensure that as the big gear at the top you realize when you make a change the little gears at the bottom are sent spinning. Be in tune and be a real change leader and the people will follow you like no one else. It’s all about attitude.

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