Recently I watched the Academy Award nominated movie “The Theory of Everything.” I love it and I became fascinated by the way Stephen Hawking thinks. I began to dig a little deeper and found this quote:
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” ~ —Stephen Hawking
Wow! … what a gutsy statement. It implies inversely, that those who are not willing to change are not intelligent. I know that is not true., but think about it. We are in a time of tremendous change and there are some people in leadership roles not responding well.
Change happens anyway.
Between customer empowerment, expectations of the Millennial generation and technology, NOTHING is staying the same. The constantly shifting marketplace is screaming, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Companies and the teams within the company cannot afford to be complacent about change unless they are planning on going the way of the dinosaur. Complacency is a silent killer of a team and its organization as well as a career. One way to fight complacency is by challenging one’s self t hear new ways of thinking and ideas. Today’s leaders must be open to collaboration and inclusion to truly understand what each team member brings to the table.
The Fear Factor
Many organizations are in full-blown transformation mode right now. Some members of the team might not be comfortable with the shifting sands beneath them. Many see change as a way of moving them out and that is a paralyzing and frightening thought. People are looking for help from leaders who will need to tackle the changes head-on and those leaders need to reassure each person that they are a valued member of the team.
Adapting to a Changing Environment
Here are a few things we all need in a changing environment:
1. Clarity – When left to their own way of viewing changes, the employee may be frozen into inaction. When their leader is able to help them understand the objectives and assure them of how all “what-if” situations will be handled, it helps everyone identify a path toward resolving issues as they come up during the change.
2. Collaboration – Each employee wants to feel empowered to bring their own strengths to the task and feel confident that other team members will “have their back” in areas where they feel a vulnerability or weakness.
3. Constructive Disruption – Unexpected things are going to happen. Seeing opportunity in everything allows the team to anticipate the unexpected and work toward the clear goals identified by the leadership.
4. Adaptability -– In a rapidly changing marketplace, work teams benefit from knowing “What’s next.”. They must change the lens from looking internally for direction and purpose to looking outwardly. A solid, adaptable ecosystem can challenge the old ways of doing things and develop a real competitive advantage.
Leadership’s Role in Change
Let’s get down to the essence of how a strong leader facilitates change. It’s much more than getting out in front of the your people and telling them changes are going to take place and to get on board the “change train.”
Opportunities are everywhere, and strong leaders can see them. Not only can strong change leaders see current opportunities, they recognize that great opportunities will continue and only a team prepared for those changes will be able to maximize those opportunities.
Strong change leaders will build effective teams with different points of view. They will reach out to all generations and all cultures. When given free expression, diversity of thought converges into giving rise to unbeatable companies. It unleashes a passionate pursuit of excellence with each team member., and will allows each member of the team to feel part of creating a legacy together.
Diversity of thought fuels discovery and collaboration leads to fresh, new ideas to keep the spirit of change alive and well in the workplace. It builds entire ecosystems within the company to provide the flexibility needed to grasp new opportunities as they are recognized.Strong change leaders will anticipate constructive disruption and never forget the customer along the way. With a clear vision of the desired outcome, the team will combine diverse talents into a powerful, adaptive ecosystem in the midst of drastic change.
It’s Not Too Late
Complacency will become a silent killer to any organization. You must wake up each morning eager to discover what your customers want from you and how you are going to deliver it. As a change agent, you must also know how to sell change to employees and get them engaged. You want them to be excited about it to the point that they bring fresh insight into the process of transformation.
Become a change leader for your organization, its employees, and your industry at large. Encourage everyone to think differently in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace.
Karen McCullough is a nationally known keynote speaker and expert on change, generational opportunities and workforce trends.
Karen helps organizations cut through the generational biases and get back to reality by leveraging their team’s strengths, enriching the work environment, and driving better results. Each of her presentations brings a realistic perspective on workplace trends, employee engagement, while offering actionable content.
For the past 15 years Karen has shared her insights to top organizations such as VMware, Procter & Gamble, US Department of Justice, JPMorgan Chase, Symantec, McGraw-Hill, National Homebuilders, Shell Oil, Mercedes Benz, The World Bank, American National Insurance, Humana, United Way, American Heart Association and MD Anderson Cancer Center.