Rule. Routine. Attitude. Status quo. When a genuine leader hears the words, “We’ve forever done it this way,” his or her fingers start to tingle. The questions come fast and furious:
- “Why have we always concluded it this way?”
- “What’s going in our means – and what’s not?”
- “How can we do it adequately?”
Exceptional leaders consistently try out new and ingenious ways to achieve better execution. They ignite the fire in their eternal quest for constant growth, living by the proverb, “If it’s not broke, break it!”
Is this an absolute position? Yes, it is. In a world where people regularly resist change, true leaders seek to change out and embrace it. They insist that no matter how crudely a scheme is working now, it can be turned around to become a smooth, profit-making mechanism. And, they understand that no matter how well a scheme is functioning, it can always be made greater, stronger, and secure.
Here are three ways great leaders influence real change:
1. Make improvements constantly. You can modify a car’s direction by rotating the wheel in a violent 180-degree turn, or you can take your time and swing around in a continuous circle. Regular changes are usually more natural on people, easier to put into action, and more efficient in the long-run.
2. Create tiny wins. If entire rules, systems, or organizational arrangements need to be restored, be sure to create small wins along the way to boost employee impulse, keep people on target, and provide a sense of achievement.
3. Learn through blunders. Remember that not every plan, design, or change drive will be successful. Blunders will be made. Failures will happen. When that is the case, see mistakes as possibilities for learning and not as reasons for accusing or bludgeoning people. The question is not “Who screwed up?” but “What can we acquire?” In this environment, mistakes and breakdowns become the keys to success, because people at every level of the organization are convinced that they can seek for reforms without putting themselves in individual risk – even if their efforts are not thriving.
As a leader, never settle for the status quo. Never wait to break new ground. The best is just a little ahead of where you are now. You can get there – it just takes the determination to dispute, and to change.