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10 ways leaders can sabotage their own transformation programs

In a recent blog, David Lee from MSS Business Transformation share his thoughts on what it takes for leaders to create effective change and transformation across their organizations.

One of the hardest things to manage when working with clients on transformation efforts is that the people who hire you are often the root cause of why it is so difficult.

“If we don’t change, our business will continue to decline, but our people resist,” or “We are facing a disruption and we need to change, but our culture does not permit it,” or “Our people are not inclined to change, so you will have to teach them that it is necessary.”

These types of statements are fairly common in first interviews with potential clients when they are frustrated that they are trying to make change but have not succeeded. I am now very wary of these viewpoints. More often, the truth is just the opposite.

When I hear this from a leader, the question I pose is, “What are YOU prepared to do?” This will come as a shock because they think they are change makers. They feel they have been doing all they can to drive change and are up against insurmountable odds. Why will they need to do more? But, in fact, there are several ways that leaders encumber change and, dare I say it, cause it to fail.

So, I thought I would share some of the caveats for leaders – the things I have learned to test for in interviews or in the early stages of a program. Many are interrelated and some may even be, seemingly, contradictory as they are drawn by multiple examples.

1. Unwillingness to Transformation Themselves

This is absolutely the top criteria. What has worked in the past may not necessarily work in the future. This is especially true if the organization is experiencing high growth or disruption. The approach to leadership will require a transformation. If the leadership is not willing to look within themselves, if they fail to see that they need to change and be the champion of change, they are likely to create barriers to transformation.

2. Lack of Vision

If the leader is unable to formulate and communicate a vision of the future state, how would they be able to make choices or expect anyone else to be on board and be supportive of the transformation? It is the difference between setting a course to the new world and adjusting to the currents to get you there and just randomly navigating without a destination in mind.

3. Treating Transformation as a Second Job

The leader’s role is to move the organization into the future state. If someone feels that doing this is secondary to their “real role,” they need to wake up or abdicate. As a shareholder, employee or partner, I would be concerned if the organization leader is so into the daily operations and firefighting that they don’t feel that driving transformation is their primary and, really, only role.

This seems like a lot to think about when looking at taking on a transformation program. As a consultant/advisor or as the leader of transformation, you only need to ask one question though, “What are YOU prepared to do?” If the answer does not include:

  • Start with changing myself
  • Have a strong vision to communicate
  • Treat the transformation as your primary/only role

….then you are likely already behind the eight ball and have some work to do.

Read David’s blog in its entirety HERE.

 David Lee, Executive Director,  MSS Business Transformation 

David is a global executive with experience developing business relationships in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East, with over 20 years of executive management experience in Fortune 500, mid-sized companies and start-ups. David is a highly regarded facilitator, writer, and public speaker on topics including Business Transformation, Managing Complexity, Disruptive Innovation, and Organizational Change Management.

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