How do you unleash the potential of any leader, team or business?
Stated differently, how do you lead change?
Leading change is, by definition, what good leaders do. Resources and goodwill naturally flow to leaders who are skilled at leading change, because change is the place where risk meets return.
This question how confronts every leader equally, regardless of the challenge.
This article introduces a universal framework for navigating change. We call it the Journey. It was developed by Growth River and has been applied with great success by hundreds of change leaders.
The Challenge Is Leading Change Effectively
Leading change is not easy. Research shows about 30% of change initiatives fail outright, while only 20% achieve performance goals.
And between success and failure there is the Big Mediocre Middle.
Reasons cited include:
- A lack of a compelling case for change
- Poor team collaboration
- Underestimating resistance to change
- Missing the right talent
- Wrong (or weak) strategies
- Poor implementation
The Change Leadership Journey
You can unleash the potential of any business by focusing leaders on the right critical conversations.
The trick of course is knowing what these conversations are and how to focus on them.
The Journey is a universal framework for driving and leading change, based on a cycle of seven critical conversations:
Higher performing teams use this framework continuously, cycling through seven principles to lead change initiatives effectively.
The Goal Is Transformational Change
It is to inject an accelerant into team performance.
And it is to break through to higher levels of sustainable performance.
Why Do Change Leaders Need A Universal Framework Like This One?
In a word: precision.
The seven critical conversations enable you to focus on the highest return investments by:
- Aligning your team around a focused process.
- Developing you and your team to be more effective at leading change.
- Revealing your personal and your team’s competency gaps so that you can focus training and development there.
What Are The Seven Critical Conversations?
a. Purpose − Am I part of a strong team with a clear purpose?
b. Focus − Do we have aligned priorities, driven by data on our current state, and are those priorities aligned to achieve our future state?
c. Mindset − Do we think and act with accountability and demonstrate inspiring leadership for others?
d. Roles − Does every key strategy, decision and activity have a single owner who is accountable for execution and owns driving key issues to resolution?
e. Interdependencies − Are we clear where shared work exists; are we collaborating effectively? Do we have clear and effective rules for engagement and protocols?
f. Strategies − Are all team leaders advocating and then aligning ways forward, each from the perspective of their role, in service of business results?
g. Implementation – Are we communicating a compelling way-forward, taking actions, course correcting, and delivering tangible results in a way that creates confidence and trust?
Keep in mind, each critical conversation in the Journey builds on and is limited by the maturity of previous ones. In other words, it’s a developmental model: purpose precedes focus, which precedes mindset, and so on.
The most common way change initiatives falter is that steps are skipped.
Let’s go deeper into this.
- The top leader has a directive style, evoking rebellion.
- The senior team rarely meets, operating more like individual contributors than team members fully in it together.
- Decision-making is slow and delegation is poor.
- People below the senior leadership level show little initiative.
- Strategies are intuition-based and not specific enough to win.
What steps would you take turn this business around?
The first common misstep
The top leaders thinks that the Journey is a nice framework, but isn’t sure it really applies to him or his team.
He declares, “We don’t have time for soft conversations. We need to execute.”
So with this tactical mindset, he skips the first five critical conversations and jumps straight to strategies and implementation (f – g).
As a result, the team becomes mired in old conflicts and stories, which they cannot easily resolve because they are constrained by vague purpose, blurry focus, conflictive mindset, unclear roles, etc.
What went wrong?
They joined the Big Mediocre Middle.
They skipped critical conversations.
More precisely, they did not establish the conditions that make successful strategies possible.
How do they get back on track?
They start again, moving stepwise through the seven critical conversations. They begin…
- working more intentionally and collaboratively as a team.
- improving their business culture and become better at resolving conflicts and aligning towards shared strategic priorities.
- focusing on resolving primary constraints and create a significant performance breakthrough.
They get in the habit of repeating the Journey every four to six months. Leadership and business growth accelerate significantly.
Leadership Is A Journey
The Journey is a universal framework for unleashing the potential of any business, team or organization. It is founded on seven critical conversations. It is designed to be applied a part of a regular planning cycle. It addresses both business culture and business model issues at the same time. And it can be customized to flexibly incorporate pretty much any kind of methodology or solution required.
There are specific methodologies, distinctions and tools to be used along the Journey. We’ll be posting one each week in this blog.
If you would like to discuss how to apply the Journey to your team and organization, send us an email.