How many times have you been brimming with enthusiasm for big change initiatives only to watch it fade away in the shadow of the next big thing? Maybe you have led a team or organisation that was really excited about taking action to instigate the change? You had big budgets to make big changes – a new goal to chase, vision to implement, or underlying issues to address within the business. So you threw money at it, bringing in people like me for an all singing, all dancing learning intervention. Action taken. Change will happen right? Wrong.
What you didn’t realise was that this was only the very beginning. The programme design and delivery was all very engaging and got great reviews. But over time you just don’t see the shifts that you were expecting and before you know it you are on to the next intervention or project and running the same cycle again. There is an epidemic of ‘over consumption’ in a world where more knowledge and pace are rewarded. Do more, learn more, do it faster. But what about truly integrating what we already know?
If real change is to happen, there must be a solid commitment from everyone to take action. We need to slow down and consolidate and integrate what we have so far. People like me can show up and provoke thought, teach some stuff, coach, inspire and motivate. However the reality is that EVERY individual needs to commit. Once an individual (or team) leaves that training room or coaching session, they must go away and actually do something with it. Not look for the next thing but do something with what they now have.
As a leader, your job is to create an environment that is conducive to making sure the small incremental changes are integrated into every day working practice. For every individual. How are you helping people to ‘do the work’? How are you facilitating a culture of real change?
Doing the work means everyone taking personal responsibility. It means owning your own progress. It means being accountable to oneself and having the conversations that matter, so that you can create the changes you want for you as an individual or within your organisation.
So what is it that’s actually stopping us from doing the work?
Comfort zone. We all love it here. Cosy, warm comfort zone, where we’re in complete control. Where we know exactly where we are and what’s going on at all times. Only we don’t learn, grow and change here. We slip into autopilot. And it’s really easy to convince ourselves that we’re doing the work – we’ve joined the gym/been on another course/read the book. It looks like we are taking action but there is no REAL work happening here.
The best learning environment we can create is the one where WE do the real work. Where WE are accountable. Real changes start on the inside. But we often choose external validation as our markers of success. I am not suggesting that the theory or knowledge isn’t important but connecting with our own experience is of equal value if we are to create real change.
Resistance will come up, but this is where the nugget of opportunity for growth exists. And this is true for you as an individual and is also true for those that you are leading. You need to get comfortable with it. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with them. Get to the truth behind what it is that’s really stopping you (or them) from moving forward. People are so often labelled as being difficult when it comes to change, obstructive or negative. The truth is that this resistance can be gold if we stay curious.
Get curious about resistance and you’ll find the place from which to grow and help others to do the same.
So focus on the integration and reduce consumption to create change. Here’s how:
1. Check you have the right outcome in mind. Do you REALLY want this change? Do they REALLY want this change?
2. Take small steps to create new neural pathways that make change stick. Small steps add up to big leaps. How are you tracking the baby steps?
3. Get into the right mind-set. Make sure you’re focusing on the internal job, not the external validation.
4. As resistance comes up, reflect and evaluate the changes that need to be made. Get curious with yourself and your people.
5. Be honest with yourself about where the change really needs to happen. Have the conversations that matter. Most of the time, the change needs to come from the inside to create the results you want on the outside.
If you or your organisation have real changes to make and you want to explore how you really ‘do the work’ get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org