Nearly everybody wants to be changing and keep their lives and businesses improving, but few people want to be the ones to lead the change first.
This is a mindset you need to change (pun intended).
Leading change is a topic near and dear to my heart.
When I learned to embrace change in the right way, my whole life and business turned around for the better.
Since then, I’ve given speeches, presentations, coaching sessions, and built my brand around change as a concept and how to lead change in the workplace.
Leading change in the workplace is about implementing ideas and implementing plans. The right way to lead change is to slow down your brain, stop now, embrace the clarity of planning and goals, and seek quality advice from others like yourself. Failure to do so results in stress and confusion in the workplace and life.
Let’s dive in and see how change is a good thing.
Why Is Leading Change So Important?
Change is something everyone wants to happen, especially leaders.
Consider the following statement:
If my team mates/company would just change this or that, we’d all be so much better.
Have you been there? I know I have, my friend.
But this attitude is dead wrong.
As a leader, you need to inspire and plan for the change.
You can’t love leadership without looking at and embracing change.
Change is a part of life. Whether it’s the market changing or the business adapting new strategies, change will happen whether you want it to or not.
We might as well learn to embrace it and enjoy the change.
Change also keeps you on top of the market and always improving (if done correctly).
Leadership Vs. Managing Change
Leading change isn’t just inspiring change or reacting to it (as I learned early on in my career and rediscover every day). It’s about intention.
This is where the difference between leading change and managing change comes in.
Change when left alone is chaos and messy. Growth can happen but so may destruction.
Leading change is about removing the unknowns in change as much as possible.
The problem most people have with change is uncertainty. People want routine and to know what’s expected.
Change throws all this in the air.
When the market changes or the boss introduces a new process, it throws team mates and businesses into upheaval.
The leader of change knows this, and when they create change, they remove the unknowns and plan.
For the leader, team mates, and business, this makes the change much less stressful and more successful.
If we create and plan for the change as we can, we control it and give ourselves and those around us the confidence to embrace it.
Leading change is an important aspect of mindful leadership too.
Check out this post on mindful leadership examples and exercises.
The change manager is reactionary.
When change happens, they react to the change, always behind. They never feel in control and the stress level of themselves and their team mates’ skyrockets.
The manager of change doesn’t have confidence in their ability to handle the change. The workplace doesn’t have the confidence to navigate change’s murky waters.
This lack of confidence spirals in on itself until someone breaks the cycle (this is what change leaders do) or the system collapses.
Even if they manage to get through the change, it never feels easy. When something changes in the future, the people involved are even more stressed.
Psychology Today discusses 10 ways to help manage stress that comes with change, and several of them revolve around being pro-active in the change.
How To Lead Change In The Workplace
None of us want to be behind the ball. We want to be out front inspiring the change.
Driven minds don’t like feeling behind, and my friends, I understand because this is me too.
But it’s not just about the desire to lead change; it’s about intention.
When the powerful leader inspires change, he or she does it for a specific reason.
It isn’t just changing for change’s sake; the purpose is there.
This was a lesson I learned the hard way. As someone with a driven mind, static leadership and static systems in business just feel wrong.
If I do the same thing for 2 weeks, I’m itching to mix it up.
This isn’t a bad drive, but it is bad if you just make changes without planning.
Without preparation and purpose, change is madness. And believe me, friends, I’ve created more madness in my life than I’m proud of.
Change doesn’t have to be a giant upheaval. Change can happen as a result of predictability, planning, and intention.
Even when the spark of change is outside your control (such as when the market changes or changes in the world happen such as the pandemic), you have the power to lead the change.
Stop creating madness and plan for the change.
Looking To Examples
Don’t take my word for it, though I’ve made myself an expert on change leadership.
If you look at the most successful companies and businesses over time (and I’m talking about the ones who’ve been around forever), you’ll find they’re always changing and adapting with purpose.
They plan, they strategize, and they stay creative and fresh.
But they don’t change their core values.
What they change are strategy and tactics, and this is communicated to their whole team.
Implementing Ideas Vs. Implementing Plans
It’s about this concept which revolutionized my leadership.
What are you implementing when it comes to change?
Ideas or Plans.
The answer should be both, but it rarely is.
Let’s look at an example of the driven mind in action: me.
As a young entrepreneur, I created change and implemented ideas like crazy and at a breakneck pace.
I changed the service industry I started on, started a professional speaking career, founded the Blue Collar Success Group, began coaching and writing, started KennyChapman.com (hey, you found it! Good for you!), and much more.
I’m great at implementing ideas for change.
But when I was younger, I struggled to implement plans, and, as I said before, this created chaos.
I thought if something wasn’t working there was a flaw with my idea for change.
No, the idea was good, but I didn’t implement any plans to make the idea a success.
Implementing ideas and implementing plans must be married together for there to be successful and long-lasting change.
In my office, I’m known for having a squirrel mentality. You know, like the dogs from the Pixar movie, Up.
For those who haven’t seen it, there’s a running gag where the dogs (who talk due to an advanced type of collar) will be having conversations with each other, but then they see something moving off in the distance and stop right away.
The driven mind is like that too. We have so many “squirrel” moments and ideas.
How do we manage our driven mind and get a handle being a leader of impactful change rather than a creator of madness?
Hang with me, friends, the answer is below.
The Road Less Stupid, Keith J. Cunningham
I didn’t come across the answer to leading change effectively one night in a dream. It came through learning from others and my own experiences along the way.
Keith Cunninghame wrote a great book called The Road Less Stupid: Advice From The Chairman of the Board.
This book is awesome, by the way. If you haven’t read it, I strongly encourage you to do so.
Keith introduces an idea in his book that’s funny in nature, but painful and eye-opening in life.
He calls it, the Dumb Tax.
Every time you do or try something (especially big changes) you pay the Dumb Tax. You do dumb things.
Taxes suck to pay at the time of payment. When you see it taken from your pay stub or have to pay the business taxes quarterly, even the most die-hard believers in government don’t like to see the money go away.
Dumb taxes are kind of the same. You hate it when it happens.
You sit there as things happen and think: Man, that was dumb.
But here’s the magic, friends:
Taxes are payment for services later on.
Your dumb taxes will pay for itself many times over when you learn from your mistakes and make plans to avoid them in the future.
I’ve paid a lot in Dumb Taxes over the years (more than any one person should, I’m sure), but it’s helped me learn how to lead change in the workplace instead of creating madness with change.
Homework For Leading Change: 4 Simple Steps
These are my four steps for leading change and managing the driven mind’s desire to change constantly.
We need to harness the energy in a productive way when it comes to change. Here’s your homework on this topic in 4 simple steps.
#1 Slow It Down
Slow your roll.
Slow it down.
Quit making so many decisions so fast.
Keep the ideas coming, but don’t turn them into change quite yet.
Let the ideas sit for a minute. Quit sprinting.
Many of us with driven minds feel like we’re in a race, but here’s the secret: You’re only racing against yourself.
Don’t burn yourself out or get lost in the race.
#2 Do It Now
Don’t wait to slow down when things go wrong.
You’ve got a new idea? Great!
Stop. Now. And Plan.
I’ve learned a lot from my experiences, but this one sticks with me:
If you don’t make the time to do it right, you WILL make the time to do it again.
Stopping NOW gives you the time to do it right.
#3 Embrace Clarity
Don’t get caught up in the glory of the idea (it’s fun, I know). Instead, seek clarity on what you want your change idea to accomplish.
Sleep on the idea. Let the main ideas and goals come to you.
Now, start to strategize, journal, and plan.
Think about what could go wrong. Think about what pitfalls there may be.
Create ideas and procedures on how to address these issues to better solidify the idea.
#4 Seek Quality Advice
One person alone is not a planner.
No matter how much of a genius you are, you WILL NOT think of everything.
This is where a board of directors or killer team are essential.
These people are driven entrepreneurs just like you, and the more eyes you get on an idea, the better fleshed out it will be.
Remember, we’re trying to remove the unknowns and act with intention in order to best lead change.
Don’t worry about what the market’s doing or what the competitors are doing. You need to do the best you can do.
The best you can do is implement plans AND ideas with help from others like you.
So stop, right now, seek clarity, and plan with the advice of great people you trust to help you.
Change is going to happen. They say the only thing reliable about life is its unreliability.
If change is going to happen, we may as well embrace and lead through the change.
Be the creator of change, but don’t just cause it, plan for it.
Create it strategically and have more control.
Everything will end up better for it.
Make it a better-than-fantastic week and choose some change.
About Kenny Chapman
Kenny Chapman’s mission is to help driven leaders build their ideal lives and careers (even if they don’t know what that looks like yet). He is an award-winning authority on helping people discover their true potential and make the simple, though not always easy, necessary changes.
Kenny is a professionally trained speaker, consultant, columnist, author of The Six Dimensions of Change 2.0 and In-Home Sales Acceleration, and host of the Leadership in a Nutshell podcast. He is an entrepreneur at heart, building multiple successful companies, most recently the Blue Collar Success Group. His teachings have inspired individuals worldwide to reshape their lives and organizations, creating sustainable change, happiness, and personal fulfillment.