Leadership And Change: A New Year And A New Direction

As we head into the New Year, I, like many other people, have been thinking about New Year’s resolutions. It’s that time of year that you start setting personal goals for yourself or attempting to change things about your life that you’ve always wanted to change. But, change is hard. All too often, New Year’s resolutions end in disappointment. We want to change, but we lack the follow through. We just can’t resist the urge to default to the way things have always been done.

This inability to maintain change is as true in professional life as it is in personal life. As 2015 rolls around, we are also busy setting goals and looking for areas in our organizations that need to change. We focus on new sales goals, we explore new technologies, we study up on new regulations, we take new strategic look at the marketplace, and we decide how we need to do things differently in order to remain competitive. The question is, how much of what we decide to do now will actually be accomplished by the time 2016 rolls around? Well, that all depends on leadership…

If you ask the top CEOs across all industries what their great challenge in leadership is, many of them will tell you that it is leading change. “Change management” is even a whole new field of study that has arisen. People within organizations naturally default to their traditions. They do things the way they’ve always been done, not because those processes still work, but rather because it’s easier. They’re accustomed to those processes, and it’s uncomfortable and stressful to change them. Left to their own devices, people won’t change. They need the courage of a leader to push them into uncharted terrain. They need you…

Take a look at your organization. What areas are in need of some reengineering? Perhaps you have fallen behind in some compliance-related areas, and you’ve gotten a little sloppy as the rules have changed. Perhaps the sales methods that your team is using are outdated, and you need to update your processes to align with the way the modern buyer shops. Perhaps you’re still using technology that your competitors stopped using ten years ago, and you need to update those systems in order to remain competitive. The list of areas to explore are endless. The important thing is that you find them, make a decision about them, and communicate clearly to your team what course of change you’ve decided to take.

All of the areas mentioned above, and many more that you’ll uncover as you develop your strategy for 2015, are laden with obstacles. People are going to be resistant to change. Of course, very few people like having to change the way they do their jobs to satisfy new regulations. But salespeople also hate changing the way they sell and people generally do not appreciate having to learn new technologies. As the leader in your organization, you’ve got to be the one who pushes. You’ve got to be the one who drags people through the discomfort of change until they reached the other side and are accustomed to the new, and better, way of doing things. Change needs to happen in your organization. But, it never will…unless you lead it.

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