Leaders: Making the Best of Change Management

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Though first recognized as a management discipline in the 60’s, change management (CM) is a discipline that rose in prominence in the 90s.

I share a bitter-sweet experience with formal change management protocols. Being a pragmatic and common sense kind of guy, my best work has involved making complex things simple for everyone around me to understand.

Courtesy 123rf.comI have seen “change management professionals” who bring a very complex set of tools and vocabulary to the workplace. Often the project is doomed to fail before it ever starts because the sheer weight of the new terms being used burden the effort beyond most employee’s capacity to comprehend.

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Are You Leading on Purpose?

Managers, leaders, and business owners come to work everyday with a wide variety of mindsets. Sometimes the focus is on the next big problem or maybe it is about the next big deal. Priorities vary day-to-day.

Regardless of the topic du jour, there should always be a tie to your purpose. Losing sight of one’s purpose has tremendous, and sometimes lasting effect. I ask again, are you leading on purpose?


Of course, there’s a little play on words here. We all can lead intentionally if we choose. We can mean to do something, say something, or purpose to be something. These are all noble causes.

I am talking about the ultimate purpose that you sense for your life. Have you been able to connect with the fire within that excites you, drives you and gets all your faculties engaged to tackle the day? Do you see a long-term fulfillment in what you are doing at work, at home, and in your community?

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3 Simple Ideas for Better Relationships

A good friend in the banking sector uses a simple mantra for doing business. When he meets a potential lead, he actually shuns the business at first. He tells the person, “I don’t want to do business with you right now.”

Shocker huh? What would your leads do if you told them that?

But he follows with, “No, I don’t want to do business with you until we have established a know, like and trust connection. All three have to happen for our business to be successful and mutually rewarding.”


Look at these three simple pieces:

  • Know
  • Like
  • Trust

“All things being equal people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.” ~ The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Think about your most valued relationships. Didn’t you do all three before the connection became meaningful?

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Management Endurance: Do You Sprint or Do You Pace?

Being a manager is a test of endurance. Much like running a marathon, there is a need to pace your effort to make it to the finish.

How in the world can you pace a situation that is day-to-day, in your face, and ever-present? Here are several answers.

Running the race
Courtesy 123rf.com

The Real Meaning of Endurance

Let’s re-set the true meaning of endurance. Wikipedia says this:

Endurance (also related to sufferance, resilience, constitution, fortitude, and hardiness) is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

We’ve lost the core appreciation for what endurance means. Perhaps because of all our focus on sports, for most of us endurance means playing 4 quarters, or running the race, or winning the event.

No, endurance is the ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. There is no time limit on that definition.

As a manager, you may have an indefinite time scope to deal with. You have to perpetually finds ways to resist, withstand, and recover from the happenings of the day.

It’s Really Day to Day

We all deal with project plans, annual budgets, client delivery, and production schedules that impose clocks and calendars on us.

Yet execution is really just day to day. The plan is a critical piece of information to consider while we execute, but actual, “get the job done effort”, is day to day. Therefore, your need for endurance is ultimately only a day to day requirement.

Even the Bible encourages us not to worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will have worries of its own. Living and operating in the present, this moment right now, is all we have to do.

  • Do you have a mechanism for mentally processing the truth of the day?
  • Can you recover physically and mentally from the stress and strain placed on your body?
  • Is everyone OK? 

If you answered yes to all of those needs, you have an endurance framework that will get you through.

Break It Down

In the three questions above, I placed mental conditioning at the top of the list. My experience in many different situations tells me that is true. If I can mentally process what happened and is happening, I can better achieve a sense of balance.

A big part of mental strength is learning how to separate perception and reality. People above and below you will say things that sting. Do you allow the immediate perception of what was said to become your truth? Or do you evaluate the message with a keen sense of reality? As things happen around you, do you let perceptions become true or can you push them back into alignment with the reality of the situation.

All managers operate with some sense of fear. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are either lying or in denial. I think a healthy dose of fear is a natural way to protect us from doing ourselves harm. However, if you have not learned how to control that fear, you may easily let it take over when things start going wrong.  

Your mental process may be inclined to say “see, told you so, this was going to happen.” That is fear. No, you have to mitigate the fear by finding reality. What are the facts? What are the actual circumstances?

Some of the best leaders I have ever known had a keen sense of reality. They refuse to let the small voices in their head influence how they define truth in the moment.

Finding Recovery

Recovery is vital to sustained growth. When we exercise at the gym, our bodies need a recovery period. You cannot work the same muscles hour after hour, day after day without some time for recovery.

The work world is really no different. You have to find that break away time to allow recovery; both mental and physical.

Check my recent post about the science of recovery.

Were There Any Casualties?

I don’t ask this lightly. There are leaders I’ve known who have been combat veterans. You can imagine the gravity of having to ask this question after every operation.

In business, we usually don’t have actual body count (fortunately). But we do suffer other kinds casualties that impact our company, our people, and our role as a manager.

We can lose trust. Or lose customers. Lose an investment. Lose a valued employee or whole team.

How do you deal with those moments? Can you effectively regroup, reassess, and adjust the plan to move forward without suffering more casualties?


Management endurance is neither sprint nor marathon. It’s a day to day dynamic that requires mental capacity, discipline, focus, and drive to sustain.

Live each day in the moment. Don’t let fears about tomorrow cloud your judgment for right now.

Go back to the definition above. Endurance is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

Go ahead. Dive in and endure!


5 Ways to Avoid Convenient Excuses

As we go through this life, things happen to us and around us. Often there is a call to accountability. Sometimes that call is obvious and loud, for example when the boss is really mad. Other times the call is quiet.

Those of us with any moral conviction at all tend to offer an answer when one of those calls for accountability arises. However, if you are like me, you can be guilty of occasionally offering excuses rather than true, accountable explanations. To be an effective and respected leader, you must fight the temptation to give excuses.


[shareable cite=”John Wooden”]“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”[/shareable]

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The Heck It’s Not Personal

A young aspiring candidate enters the office of the hiring manager. Time is set to do a job interview. The usual formalities are exchanged along with a little small talk.

Courtesy 123rf.com
Courtesy 123rf.com

“Have a seat” says the senior. The questions begin. Things are moving along pretty well, then oops. Something is said by the candidate that seems to spark a reaction from the interviewer. A bit of a tantrum ensues. The manager collects himself, then utters the immortal words “it’s not personal.”

“The heck it’s not personal, there are only two of us in the room” thinks the candidate.

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Want To Be A Hero?

I am excited to announce a new series of guest bloggers joining me from time to time to share their views of management and leadership. My first guest is a long-time friend and colleague, Roger Ferguson, Founder of ISI Human Resources Consulting.

We’ve worked together for many years. He is a certified human resource professional who has developed a brave new alternative to those old, tired employee assessment models. Here is his work….


If you are like most of us you dread your annual employee performance appraisal.  The process requires a significant amount of time and effort and the results are rarely significant.  You are not alone.   The research on the traditional employee appraisal process is overwhelmingly negative.  No one appears to believe that is an efficient or effective process.  Why do we continue?


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Leaders: What Do You Do With Your Bridges?


If you live anywhere near waterways or hilly terrain, you are no stranger to bridges. These amazing structures can be beautiful as well as extremely functional.

44485365_sBridges allow us easy passage from point A to point B without traveling miles out of our way. They can be a picture of safe movement. Often the view from the bridge is spectacular.

In business and in life, our relationships require some bridging. Isn’t it true that you stand somewhat alone facing the world. To make connections with those around you, a bridge must be built.

Once the bridge is built, does it stand the test of time? Can you maintain the strength and durability of your bridge with someone else?

Here are considerations about the bridges in your life.

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6 Reasons Change Is So Challenging

It’s no coincidence that the word ‘change’ fits into the word ‘challenge’. Change is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or unpredictable.

We all face changes in our lives. Whether on a personal level or at work, change is inevitable.

By taking a deeper dive into the dynamics of the human change process, we can better understand our reluctance to change or the steps where the change process breaks.

For most people, it’s not the idea of change itself that is so daunting, but rather the transition phases of the cycle where there is nothing to hold on to. Think about the last time you faced a serious change. Then look at this diagram and ask yourself how you moved through each phase.

Here is a diagram that shows the 6 stages of change.


Stage 1 follows immediately after change has taken place. It is characterized by feelings of loss and fear. Those affected by the change are likely to feel paralyzed and disempowered by the change that has taken place.

Stage 2 is a period of negative thought and doubt. Individuals tend to feel resentful of the change that has occurred and they will actively resist embracing the change around them.

Stage 3 is a passive stage characterized by feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Those affected by the change are likely to be unproductive and feel as if they are powerless to determine the outcome of events.

The danger zone in the change cycle lies between stages three and four. Change management is essential to ensure that individuals make the transition from stage three to stage four.

Stage 4 signals a shift to positive thinking surrounding change. A creative atmosphere surfaces and participants are likely to feel energized and excited about new possibilities.

Stage 5 brings greater understanding of the change process. Productive behavior returns and participants feel greater confidence about the change that has occurred.

Stage 6 refers to the final integration of change into the new way of working. Because participants understand the necessity of the change that has taken place, there is a feeling of satisfaction and a commitment to ensure full integration.

Change management is the facilitation of a structured period of transition from a current, as-is state to a future situation in order to achieve sustainable change.

Effective change management ensures that change takes place within predictable parameters, without causing unnecessary confusion or anxiety. Click here to see how we can help you manage change.

* Diagram source: SMC Group

Portions reproduced by special permission from ProjectXChange

SFT: A Simple Reminder for Leadership Performance

Dr. David L. Cook is a sports performance coach and business consultant who has made the phrase “SFT” famous. Leadership performance can be reduced to these three little ideas.

You might know Dr. Cook’s name from a little book title “Seven Days in Utopia”. The book was made into a movie starring Robert Duvall and Lucas Black. The story is a fictional journey of a young aspiring golf superstar (Black) who has a colossal meltdown on the world stage of golf, suffering a series of bad choices and shots that take him to a score of 15 on the final hole of a big tournament.


Angry and frustrated at the game that seems to have betrayed him, he wrecks his car while driving thru the scrub brush of the Texas Hill Country northwest of San Antonio. Destiny introduces him to an old cowboy (Duvall) who himself was once an aspiring golfer with a lot of growing up to do. For the next seven days, Duvall takes Black under his wing to teach him a few things about golf and, more importantly, life.

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