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Five Ways to Lead Through Push Back
July 6, 2015 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments
Your business seems stuck and just can’t muster the collective energy to shift into a faster gear. Monthly goals have become a string of near misses. Your team is getting complacent and you know all too well what can happen when average infects your culture. It’s time to shake things up and that’s exactly what you do. You introduce some new and exciting initiatives that you thought your team would embrace with open arms. Instead, you get push back. Push back to growth. Push back to opportunity. Push back to step into the unknown, because known became too comfortable.
Every leader eventually encounters push back to new ideas and change initiatives that require new thinking, new behaviors, new skills and new levels of effort and team engagement. And when encountering push back, leaders can either cave in and accept that status quo is their fate, or, leaders can lead through the push back and take their company to a better place. Leading through push back is like threading a needle. You can’t thread a needle using a hammer. It requires focus and a steady hand. Leading through push back is where No-Compromise Leaders take center stage and shine.
Here are my five No-Compromise Leadership strategies to quickly and effectively lead through push back:
- It’s about the “Now”: The “Now” is a brutally unfiltered reality checklist on where your company is, at this very moment. Yes, there are lots of great and wonderful items on this list, but you’re a leader and leaders look for the ugly stuff, the funky stuff … the stuff that needs to be jettisoned because of its toxicity and propensity to infect everything. The longer the ugly, funky, performance sapping stuff clings to your “Now” … the more it drags and slows your company down. Push back is fed by the ugly and funky stuff. Step one is having the courage to look at your “Now” and know that you lead it there and allowed the ugly funky stuff in. Once you really see, acknowledge and own what needs to change, you are better prepared to lead through the push back.
- It’s about the “Why”: Push back is the companion of change. Change is about uncertainty and stepping into the unknown. It’s about getting uncomfortable. It’s hard for people to embrace change for the sake of change. People need to understand the “Why” behind the change. No-Compromise Leaders know that one of the key drivers to performance and growth is “information flow” … or as we say at Strategies … “relentless communication.” Step two is about communicating the “Why” behind the change. Too often, leaders begin with “this is what’s changing.” That’s threading the needle with a hammer. The “Why” is about threading that needle so we can create something extraordinary. Understanding and clarity defuses push back.
- It’s about the “Where”: All worthy journeys have a destination. All worthy journeys encounter dangers, hazards and setbacks. People will only commit to achieving something challenging that’s going to test their abilities if they understand and believe in the destination. That’s why No-Compromise Leaders never allow the “Where” of the destination to be obscured or compromised. Step three is about believing in, and defining, the “Where” so everyone gets it, wants it and is willing to fight for it. Push back is no match for a worthy destination.
- It’s about the “Delivery”: Telling and leading are two very different communication strategies. If your company’s “Now” has some funky and ugly stuff in it, telling people what’s changing and what to do is an open invitation to push back and full-blown resistance. Step four is about the “Delivery” of change. It combines steps one, two and three into a sort of “state of your company” address that covers the successes and the current reality of the company. The intent of the “Delivery” is to ensure that everyone is on that proverbial same page of understanding. The “Delivery” cannot be rushed. The “Delivery” cannot be command and control. The “Delivery” is about why the company is where it is, where it’s going and what the change initiatives are. The more buy-in your “Delivery” earns … the less push back it will get.
- It’s about the “Quest”: No business is immune to complacency and setbacks. For leaders, it is about having the awareness that momentum and progress to that next level has stalled … and doing something about it. Too often, leaders ride the wave of a past success too long. Sooner or later, leaders need to paddle out and a catch a new wave to keep growing, to remain competitive and to remain relevant.
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