You can’t Manage Change, you must Lead through it! Inspire the desire. Professional Journey Step: step #6

You can’t Manage Change, you must Lead through it! Inspire the desire. Professional Journey Step: step #6

Leaders inspire

How many times during our careers have we had a great plan / strategy, not hit the mark or attain desired results? Statistically as many as 70% of managed change strategies fail and most of these plans are solid. The reason is pretty simple and incredibly all too common. In almost all cases the next steps are not properly implemented – inspire people to embrace the change, this is the Leadership function. The management elements were there but the Leadership elements were not provided the same priority and importance.

As described in our previous post, ‘Management versus Leadership, do you REALLY know the difference?’, we suggested it takes leadership to inspire actions, to give a plan life and continued forward motion. Without it the plan, no matter how good, is doomed for failure.

One Real Life Example

One company I worked with directly as an Operations Manager was presented with an inevitable change, the downsizing of a project scope of work (an operational change). We had the luxury of plenty of lead-time (rare) and commenced the strategic process to manage the change. As is often the case the change planning was done completely from the head office. Our constant requests for more and better information – an emphasis on communication and more operational input for the end users (us) to improve the readiness and buy-in for the change – fell to deaf ears! The managers at head office in charge of the initiative ignored all our requests time and time again. Needless to say, once rolled out there were more than a few elements missing both in the planning and execution phases. There ended up being limited engagement, what little input and inclusion in the planning that was solicited from outside their planning committee was from far too small, non-operational and polarised.  The plan was communicated, if you could call it that, the communication took the form of an aspirational mandate rather than an inspirational message – certainly didn’t win any hearts or minds – not to mention alienated their main manager on the project by ignoring my advice, requests and involvement.

Some of the Management elements were there, but the Leadership phases were missing. As the ranking person in operations who would have to live with the resulting change I watched frustrated and painfully as the initiative crashed and burned. I vowed from there I’d not let HQ or anyone else ram through any change initiatives ever again without properly addressing all the elements required for success – this agonising experience was one experience of many I called upon directly when we (MSB Max) drew from all our collective experiences to develop our Constructive Change program. Its main objective is to ensure all elements and all sides of the equation are fully addressed and satisfied – it is designed to inspire, it is designed for success… not failure!

Personal Side Story

Negative experiences like this throughout my own career have actually had some very positive results – as they say you can learn from positive as well as negative experiences! For me it provided a number of positives drawn from a negative;

  1. Regardless of what the environment, culture or general disposition was toward a challenge from the ‘powers that be’ I took the initiative to find a better way to do things – even sometimes after the fact, I knew it was very likely a similar situation or challenge would arise again and I wanted to have the solution ready and be able to convert any naysayers – this developed management and leadership skills
  2. Provided a deep conviction to continually enhance these skills and abilities and eventually turn them into sharable and deliverable tools.
  3.  People are usually the ultimate solution AND the biggest challenge to reaching a solution – so learn how to inspire the people!
  4. All of these plus many more trials, tribulations and triumphs compiled over 30+ years of trialling, winning, failing and learning from that, tweaking, improving and revising – enabled MSB Max and our offerings to be born and available to many more people and organisations.

Back to the Topic – Inspire

Change is an emotional based phenomenon requiring we address mindsets, beliefs, perceptions and behaviours to achieve successful outcomes – these come from Leadership skills and abilities. Leadership, by definition, is to inspire others to choose to follow and best case contribute. What they follow, the strategy or plan, is a management function designed to achieve a desired result. This, as previously stated, is a fundamental element of the process. As Glen Llopis says, ‘ The reality is without strategy, change is merely substitution not evolution.’[1] But, the strategy alone is NOT the end game.

Once these strategies are agreed upon only Leadership skills can provide the guidance, alignment and inspiration to get everyone required to choose to follow and contribute to the plan.

Helpful advice for this edition of the MSB Max Professional Journey Step is:

There is more to change initiatives than just the plan, method, steps. Approach any change initiative from a Management AND Leadership perspective, ensure you have all of the elements of both well covered and championed with the appropriate level of expertise and don’t underestimate any of the steps – ESPECIALLY the people (leadership) steps! Remember until you Inspire you won’t achieve the desire!

As always, your thoughts, insights, experiences are welcome. If we, MSB Max, can help you with any of your changes – and in this era you’ll have plenty – please have a look at our Constructive Change program – its designed to ensure all areas are properly covered for you to succeed and sustain through new knowledge and developed skill within a sustainable ability to deal with change – critical in our age! We’re here to help, its what we do well and why we exist!

Enjoy the journey.


[1] Glen llopis; Change Management requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment,Forbes Magazine, June 2014.