Want Growth? This is how to lead change

The aim of life is, quite simply put, growth. Growth rewards us both personally and professionally, expands our horizons and pushes us forward to new and better goals. But growth does not come cheap. It requires change.

Change, however, can be a deal killer for many of us, something we are programmed to avoid – or at the very least, fear. A lot of it has to do with how we perceive change – and how we approach change.

Future leaders know that if they are to grow, they must embrace change. They know how to create change in themselves. But most importantly, they know how to lead change in their teams to propel growth for all.

What is growth?

Growth comes in many forms. For humans, we talk about how we can grow physically, mentally, and emotionally. In corporate life, we talk about market size, brand impact, and product capabilities – among many other growth measurements.

We (humans, that is) usually think of growth in linear terms. We base our perspective of future growth on what has happened in the past. This way of thinking is common because it lets our rational mind work. But unfortunately it is also very limiting. It does not take into account the possibilities of hyper-growth, which sometimes happens because of factors that are outside of our control. This perspective also sees growth as merely a linear size of what we already know.

Can you imagine how a tree would look like if it only grew in linear terms? It would look like one giant seed.

Looking at change as something to avoid

Are you familiar with the term homeostasis? The Greek word means, standing still, or literally “staying the same.”

Homeostasis is the system in our body that regulates internal conditions, so they will remain stable in response to all external changes. Changes in temperature caused by a cold wind, for example, trigger the body to increase your internal temperature in response.

Homeostasis is, of course, necessary for many reasons. But at the same time, it is the reason why we have a built-in resistance towards change. It’s good to acknowledge homeostasis. It makes it easier for us to understand our initial response to change.

“Change Will Never Be This Slow Again”

It is both necessary and important to stay fit and be prepared for change in the world we live in. But Graeme Wood said “Change will never be this slow again.” Chew on that thought for a minute. Why is that important? Can you see the correlation between how the changes you have made in the past do not have much to do with changes you will be asked to make in the future?

So – how can we lead change? Well – try this:

Replace Fear With Curiosity
Acknowledge that homeostasis exists. Start with a simple exercise on yourself. After all, it is you as a leader who must take action. Begin working with your own resistance towards change. Be curious about it. Start making internal observations. Be conscious about when and why you feel discomfort towards change. Share your knowledge about homeostasis and the resistance towards change with people around you. Make it a fun challenge to identify why you feel change is hard – and what to do with it.

 

Look At Opportunities Instead Of Limitations
Another exercise is to start imagining how things can evolve way beyond what your brain accepts as rational. Try, slowly at first, training your brain to expand your ambitions. Some say that future leaders need to know how to “look around corners.” This is one way of doing that.

 

Be Clear In Your Communication – And Others Will Follow
When it comes to leading change, the most powerful tool at your disposal is your ability to communicate clearly your goals and ambitions with your team. Be clear on where you are going and why you are going there. Let everyone in – your executive team, your employees, and members of the board. Repeat your ambitions, over and over again. To succeed, you need to move the thoughts you have about the future out of your own mind and into the collective mind of the organization.

When you communicate your ambitions, change will no longer be perceived as unknown and scary. This is part of creating “A Living Strategy” where people feel engaged and a part of the mission because they understand their role and how it relates to the overall goal.

Read also about why change makes you a better you and why it is important to know what’s important and what’s urgent when building something new.

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