When the Great Change knocks, are you opening the door to opportunity?
By Bill Poole
Part 2 of 4
When the Great Change arrives, someone with Micro-Manage Mindset (MM) devises a strategy. MM directs fellow executives and managers to launch passionate emails showing plunging profit reports and orders meetings to warn every one of the dire situation—thinking it will motivate them to work harder.
The MM leader didn’t prepare his company for the Great Change and must try to control the chaos. The MM leader had funded some management training when times were good, but MM chose to cut leadership development when they needed it most during these tight times. The MM leader is detached from most leadership development initiatives and leaves HR and the training department to deal with the “people stuff.”
Why Micromanagers Fail
Key managers and the masses push back against The MM leader’s lofty plans and project deadlines. With passion, the MM leader pushes back harder, only to be perceived as someone who wants to save their own position and disengage with the frontline. The MM leader unintentionally reinforces a push-push and us-them environment. The MM leader’s intentions may be positive, but their impact is negative.
Because of budget cuts and layoffs, employees are anxious, fearful, and mainly focused on security instead of opportunity. Paradoxically, the money saved by cuts is soaked up by employee turnover. Some of The MM lead’s best leaders distribute their resumes as morale dives deeper. Production continues to dip no matter how hard MM and his managers push.
Most employees do not transform their thinking and assume things will get better or another bailout is on the way. Some simply “wait it out,” hoping that the MM leader and team will migrate to another company sooner rather than later.
Dysfunctional behaviors imprison the company. The best leaders feel handcuffed and flee for freedom the first chance they get. The employees who escaped layoffs are resentful and skeptical, and they display scars of disrespect and distrust like testimonial tattoos. They are stuck in Oldland.
How ‘Leaders of Leaders’ Win
When an executive has a Leader of Leaders’ (LL) mindset, a company is prepared for the Great Change. An executive with a LL mindset chooses another trusted and wise leader who sees the forest and the trees and can help translate LL’s innovative vision to multiple stakeholders. Together, they choose a team of “Transformers” in advance who can influence and are willing to change. They ensure the team reflects different perspectives and includes influencers from the frontline to represent the vulnerable masses.
They are skilled in optimal listening, which builds a bridge of respect and trust to influence and unite the entire organization. They utilize a symbolic, common language throughout all levels and locations of the company to articulate their strategies and confront issues clearly and quickly. With focus and persistence, they pull the organization toward the future. Since they dared to confront resistor-type personalities before the Great Change arrived, they experienced less pushback.
An executive with an LL mindset holds executives and managers accountable for results and how they get results. They are required to be “change leaders” and develop other Transformers. Although training is part of the process, this commitment is not pawned off as another training program.
The executive with a LL mindset and team focuses on building a change capability system. When the Great Change arrives, cuts are minimal and don’t destroy morale. They anticipate change and transform their business model to meet the context, so occasionally, employees are realigned or released. Because they care, they help displaced employees back into the market. They leverage their cuts by avoiding costly lawsuits through empathetic, ethical guidelines and minimizing the turnover of leaders at every level.
Because trust is high, an executive with a LL mindset can engage in situational leadership as the context demands. Like a prudent cat in a concrete jungle, they move with great agility and resilience. They can adjust their plans “on the run” and regularly challenge their business model and strategies to master their context.
An executive with a LL mindset focuses on building an opportunity mindset and cares about contributing to society, so those released are better prepared for transition elsewhere. Those who remain to stay motivated focused, and committed. When the Great Change knocks, they open the door to opportunity. They leave Oldland and dive willingly into the volatile whitewater and wild waterfalls toward Newland.
What allowed an executive with a LL mindset to lead their company through the Great Change? Why couldn’t a MM leader, a tenured industry CEO, escape the threat of Oldland? These questions and more are answered in part 3 of this series.
Bill Poole is CEO of J2N Global and author of Journey to Newland.
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