This headline is grammatically incorrect, yet I hope it grabs your attention and holds it long enough to drive home an important point.

As leaders, we must always be expanding the scope of our knowledge and understanding in order to seize opportunities before they pass us by. But seizing opportunities sometimes requires changing our minds and our course of action, and many people just don’t like change.

Actually, it is not so much about not liking change; what most people don’t like is when their situation or status changes without their input, involvement or permission. So, how do successful leaders plan, implement, and navigate necessary changes effectively?

Simple…you gotta wanna do it, and as a leader, you gotta get others to wanna do it too.

But how?

Here are five actions to consider:

  1. Be the Leader, or Step Aside– Change requires a champion to lead it and to ensure others are on board. This is the time for decisive action, not hesitating because you are not sure what to do. Part of being the leader is to regularly talk about the type of behaviors which are necessary to support the implementation of the change you are driving.
  2. Never Rest on Your Laurels– Good leaders have a plan in place for getting things done. What sets great leaders apart from the good ones is the focus on the future while ensuring the present goals are achieved.

The strong leader is always looking ahead, is never complacent or satisfied with today’s results. Opportunities lie ahead; they are not part of the present. Leaders are regularly looking for the next thing which can act as a catalyst to future growth and stronger results.

  1. Clarify Why Your Team Must Do This– Helping the team understand the motivation for the change is important. Without it, they can’t see how their lives will be impacted for the better. Rather, they will resist the change simply because they don’t see any benefit to them.

As the leader, point out to them how they will be more productive, more focused, better able to see real results, or whatever the positive motivation is for the change. When they can experience the motivation, you will have their commitment. Without their commitment, the change will not be successful, no matter how well you plan.

  1. Continually Learn New Things– A leader is a learner. If a leader ever gets to the point of thinking they know all there is to know, it should be an indication their time as a leader has come to an end. Leaders, just like everyone else, have strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots.

Strong leaders are always learning ways to maximize their strengths, minimize the impact of their weaknesses by having others share the load, and seeking deeper awareness of blind spots which can derail performance. Strong leaders ask questions of others; they have mentors and coaches and are not afraid or fearful of being vulnerable so others can be of assistance.

  1. Focus on Organization-wide Wins, Not Individual Wins– Zig Ziglar was often quoted, “if you want to reach your goals, help others reach their goals first.” The same principle holds true here as well. If you and your team are known for helping other departments and teams achieve what is important to them, they will be happy to return the favor. When all of this happens, it is the organization who wins and achieves much, not any one individual. Strong leaders are those who ensure their teams invest time in helping others achieve what is important to them.

When the team fully buys into the change you are seeking to implement, the realization of this change will happen much more smoothly. When there is resistance, change will be derailed and you as the leader will experience high levels of frustration. To get this buy in, they gotta wanna do it also!

I hope this stimulates some thinking on your part. Do you practice the five steps outlined above?

Or perhaps this discussion has shed some light on why some of the important change initiatives you have led may not have been as successful as planned?

When the team fully buys into the change you are seeking to implement, the realization of this change will happen much more smoothly. When there is resistance, change will be derailed and you as the leader will experience high levels of frustration. To get this buy in, they gotta wanna do it also!

Best regards,

Bill

PS – The idea behind this post was provided by James Kerr Global chair, N2Growth in an article he wrote which appeared on Inc.com.