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Leading through Change
By Dr Ken Blanchard

People always tell me they want to be magnificent! Yet how often is ordinary behaviour at work commonplace? I believe this gap between what we want at work and what we get is often down to the way people are treated by their leaders. People do want to excel. They want to develop and make a difference. They want to be recognised for the value they add to their organisations. So, if they are to become magnificent, particularly in times of change or uncertainty, leaders must embrace their needs; escape ‘the boss’ mentality and favour a culture where management and employee work together to identify and achieve excellence.

Crucially, leaders also need to trust and be trusted by their people. Time and time again workplace surveys list ‘integrity’ as the number one attribute people seek in a leader. Whatever our business sector, and whatever our position in an organisation, we want to see leaders encouraging ethical values and delivering ethical performance. The Anderson, Enron and Worldcom scandals, coupled with the aftershocks of September 11th sent a wake up call to the corporate world. Now, I’m getting venture capital groups asking my advice on how they can operate more ethically and I know the tide is turning!

Yet the very nature of 21st century business practice brings change, uncertainty and a challenge to being open and accountable. Ten years ago, if you couldn’t satisfy a customer immediately, they had to wait. Today, technology has ensured that speed and efficiency mean everything. Prices can be checked internationally in a moment and bad customer service simply won’t be tolerated. An organisation that wants to stay ahead of the burgeoning competition needs to be customer driven, fast and flexible, continuously improving and cost effective. It needs to keep changing on a regular basis.

And here is the problem. Change is traditionally seen as threatening. How does an organisation balance, in an ethical way, the need for continuous transformation and development with the need to maintain employee motivation in difficult times?

I strongly believe there are hard hitting, ethical strategies that build profits, productivity and long term success while benefiting both employer and employee even in times of great uncertainty. In fact, the best ethical strategies encourage and foster change. At their core is a set of three, key concerns around which all other business issues revolve. When these three concerns shape business and influence its development, change becomes a welcome, empowering process.

The first concern of a successful, ethically run company is ‘Vision.’ There are three parts to this - a good vision comprises (a) a customer-focussed goal; (b) a picture of what success looks like and (c) a clear understanding of the operating values that will achieve that success.

A customer-focussed goal requires everyone to know what their purpose in business is. For instance, Disney says it is in ‘the happiness business.’ A picture of success for Disney World means that ‘people have the same smile leaving the park as when they came in’. The operating values that get Disney there are first safety, second courtesy, third the ‘show’ and fourth running an efficient, profitable operation.

Vision such as this really comes into play in tough times. Keeping everyone focussed, ensuring they know what business they are in, how they should behave and what their values are is a great bedrock of stability in an otherwise vulnerable, fluid environment.

The second concern every organisation should have is how they are going to equip their people – how are they going to train and develop them to accomplish the Vision? I’ve spent the last twenty-two years developing programmes to build leadership, self-leadership and team effectiveness, enabling people to transform organisations as they move from being dependent to independent in their workplaces. Only when people are empowered to achieve their goals will they perform to the best of their ability.

The third concern goes right back to the first book I wrote twenty years ago. The One Minute Manager® outlined the importance of praise and positive culture. Praise is especially significant when the going gets tough. Constantly ‘catch people doing things right’ and ensure that good performance is acknowledged. It is not enough to simply expect good performance because that is what someone is paid to do – time and time again, employee morale surveys show that money alone is rarely, if ever, a motivator. Respect and acknowledgement rate far higher.

To be truly influential, these three concerns must be connected on a daily basis. The power of training is only unleashed when it is linked to the Vision, which is why the best, most sound management links training with business strategy. Positive affirmation can’t work without vision. We were recently asked by a major company in Germany to develop a reward and recognition scheme, but initial consultations revealed the company wasn’t clear on their Vision. We first had to develop this, as you can’t promise a reward system unless people know what deserves a reward!

Leaders must champion these three key concerns and, if necessary, change their management style accordingly.

I’m currently working on a new book about change called The Leadership Pill, a fictional story about a pharmaceutical company that develops a pill that creates more effective managers. People go crazy to get it - it immediately outsells Viagra. A guy comes along with a ‘pill challenge’ to take two poorly performing groups and see whether his good management techniques will enable his group to out-perform the group taking the pill. He succeeds, having discovered the secret of what people want if they are to adapt to change quickly. They want integrity, partnership and affirmation. They won’t put up with leaders saying one thing and doing another. They don’t want to be subordinate to anyone and they want individual recognition of themselves and their achievements.

In change situations, it is all too common for leaders to behave in opposite fashion. They refuse to share management knowledge, drive a bigger wedge between themselves and the people they lead and inadvertently dampen morale yet further, when they should be concentrating on communication, communication and more communication.

When change is announced, people want information and they should get it. Open the books. Show everyone how the company makes money. Tell it like it is and create a sense of ownership in colleagues that enhances their sense of responsibility by building up trust between management and employee.

Keeping people fully informed shows integrity and respects their deeply felt need to understand change will impact them individually. Organisations that are unable to acknowledge that leadership has moved on and that employees especially seek empowerment and recognition in times of instability will be left short staffed and struggling at a time when they need it least. Their best people will justifiably get out their CV’s with a view to finding a more supportive, developmental organisation.

In summary, If you want to keep colleagues motivated through change, constantly cheerlead where your organisation is going, what it stands for and what is trying to accomplish. Keep focused on the goal. Keep catching people doing things right. Trust in the power of your people. They can live with and through change if they have the power to work towards and achieve the goal.

To be an effective team leader, the goal isn’t to be boss and make sure everyone knows who is in charge. It’s to do whatever it takes to help your team perform well. In effective teamwork, leaders partner with their teams, serving them as a mentor or coach. Effective leaders value their people and set them up for success. They let go of authority in favour of creating an environment that inspires people to support and meet organisational goals. People in today’s workforce want to be recognised as appreciating assets and, when they are, profits are the applause organisations get for doing a good job.

Leadership and the One Minute Manager
Kenneth Blanchard, et al

Leadership and the One Minute Manager (The One Minute Manager)

Leadership and The One Minute Manager goes straight to the heart of management as it describes the effective, adaptive styles of Situational Leadership. In clear and simple terms it teaches how to become a flexible and successful leader, fitting your style to the needs of the individual and to the situation at hand, and using the One Minute Manager techniques to enhance the motivation of others. "Situational Leadership has been the cornerstone of our management training programme for the last five years. Now the model is available to everyone through this action-oriented book" MIKE ROSE, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Holiday Inns Inc.

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Dr Ken Blanchard is the founder and Chief Executive of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international training and development company specialising in leadership, organisational change, team building and customer service. Contact the UK office on 020 8540 5404 or send email enquiries to janet.leeson@kenblanchard.com. Website: www.kenblanchard.com. This article was originally published in People Management magazine but remains the copyright of The Ken Blanchard Companies.





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