Concentric Leader 

"CHANGE is Inevitable . . . . . GROWTH is Optional"


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Overcome Resistance to Change with Two Conversations

Posted on May 22, 2017 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Sally Blount Shana Carroll

Exerted from Harvard Business Review

MAY 16, 2017

Across industries and sectors, the track record for organizational change is bleak. Research finds that anywhere from 50%–75% of change efforts fail. And for those that do succeed, many don’t achieve the goals of the original vision. Why is change so hard?

Usually, figuring out the right answer is not the challenge, whether it’s a new strategy, more-efficient processes or systems, or a new structure that better meets the needs of a growing company. The biggest hurdle to effective organizational change is people. A core part of your job as a leader is to help others overcome the inherent, very human bias toward maintaining the status quo.

In our work of leading change in higher education and teaching students and executives about the change management process, we’ve gained a deep understanding of why resistance happens and what leaders can do to overcome it.

Identifying the Sources of Resistance

You first need to identify who — that is, which individuals and groups — have the biggest potential to thwart positive change. Then you have to unstick them. Doing so begins with understanding their perspectives. In our experience, there are three primary reasons people resist:

Even if you’ve done your homework and have engaged a broad range of stakeholders in determining the new direction for your organization, team, or project, there are undoubtedly going to be people who disagree on substantive grounds. Maybe they don’t agree with your analysis of the problem or they think they have unique experiences, expertise, or information that hasn’t been sufficiently considered. With this type of resistance, your job is to listen and be open to changing your approach based on what you learn.

A second universal source of resistance is the human need for respect, which frequently heightens during periods of change. This is especially true of employees who have been with an organization for a long time or have held a good deal of influence at some point in the past (and believe they still do). If these people don’t feel that they’ve had a chance to weigh in, they will assume that an important perspective has been missed, that the answer can’t be right if they have not been consulted. Again, the solution is to listen respectfully and make sure they feel heard.

Another reason people might resist is simply because they are feeling rushed. They don’t have enough time to digest the new direction or cope with the situation emotionally. We all operate at different speeds. Here, your goal should be to figure out whether any timelines can be adjusted to reduce some of this time-based stress.

Talking with the Resistors

As you begin talking to resistors, keep in mind four ground rules.

Forget efficiency. Motivating true change requires unhurried, face-to-face, one-on-one conversation. Email doesn’t do it, nor do memos or webcasts. If a specific work group or person is very important to your organization’s future, and they are resisting needed change, you have to take the time to talk with them in person, and to do it under as little time pressure as possible.

Focus on listening.

No matter how brilliant your plan or persuasive your argument, you must make everyone feel understood. That starts and ends with listening. When you’re in these conversations, make sure to take up no more than 20% of the airtime, and when you do speak, try to repeat back what you’ve heard as much as possible.

Be open to change yourself.

A resistor who senses you are listening only so you can get what you want won’t open up and definitely won’t get onboard. You must have an open attitude — be ready to learn something new and, if necessary, modify your plans. Show that resistors’ opinions and feelings matter to you and will shape your thinking and actions.

Have multiple conversations.

We’ve found that effective dialogue with resistors typically requires a minimum of two conversations. In the first conversation, you listen and diagnose the roots of the resistance. In the second conversation, your goal is to make clear that you have reflected on what you heard; to outline what will be different, or not, in your approach to the change based on that conversation; and to explain why. Even if you’re not changing your overall plan, we’ve found that anyone who truly listens to opposition will have their thinking changed in some way. So you can at least be genuine about that.

The time in between these two conversations is critical. We recommend at least two days, depending on the scale of the change. If you respond immediately, either during the initial talk or within a few hours, resistors won’t believe, perhaps rightly, that you’ve fully considered their point of view. But don’t wait more than seven days, because at that point the person feels dismissed and forgotten.

Effective change management is critical to the vitality and progress of every organization. Where most people trip up is in failing to manage resistance effectively. Doing so requires an ability to listen to your opposition, diagnose their antipathy, consider their thoughts and feelings, and explain how it has changed your thinking, if not your plan. This is a time-consuming but effective process. As Jim McNerney, the former CEO of Boeing, said, “Change happens one conference room and one office at a time.”

The Conscious Leader

Posted on December 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I write this in a way that will try to avoid going too deep but create an awareness that everyone can grasp quickly. Why? Because I think it is too important in the Evolution of the Concentric Leader as we espouse to promote through our work.

The Concentric philosophy is fairly simple in design and concept. Concentric in the normal nomenclature is a collection of circles that do not overlap. The Concentric Leadership Institute is comprised of a series of circles or Evolutionary Learnings directed toward strengthening both the presence and role of Leaders throughout our global community.

It is our belief that a clear and knowledgeable mind must be present at all times through this evolutionary growth. A mind that acknowledges each of the concentric circles as keys to realizing the Leader within each client/participant.

The Conscious Leader is aware of many things, but it is not natural to be conscious at all times. See, this is the awareness element of this message. Being Conscious as a Leader is not natural nor easy to come by.

Before we can become a Conscious Leader we must acknowledge the Unconscious umbrella under which we exist.

What am I talking about?

Consciousness is not a magical quality bestowed on a few lucky souls. While we would like to think that it just happens, it doesn’t, it is a behavior and skill that emerges as part of the Leadership Evolutionary process proffered through the Concentric Leadership Institute.

To engage in this evolutionary development process, it is essential to have an awareness that consciousness is not a sudden and total absence of unconsciousness. On the contrary, consciousness emerges progressively from unconsciousness. This means that consciousness is waiting for each of us in Leadership positions. The beauty of being an Authentic Leader is the constant opportunity to elevate ourselves through awareness to a new level of consciousness.

The unconscious being inside of each of us has a misnomer of thinking that we know what we need to know. Let’s look at that one again. Do we know what we need to know as a Leader? Absolutely not. We come into a position of authority knowing that others have an expectation that we know what we are talking about in most situations. Well, the truth is we don’t. We may be fairly talented at asking a series of probing questions to get to some level of consensus decision but in all fairness to ourselves, we should admit we do not normally have the answers unless it is a very specific project we are well versed in.

What do we normally do in most situations? We just presented one action that is very common. We work a group or process a unit or group of people to a point where a decision is made that gives the appearance that we led the group to a decision. You did but it wasn’t your decision it was the groups and we call that a consensus decision. This is not all bad but we should work with a Leadership coach or someone that is highly skilled at getting an individual or group to a point of resolution through your Leadership. Where we want to go with our thoughts and decision-making is a state of conscious decision-making versus limiting ourselves to collaborative decision-making.

Unconscious decision-making or thinking is steeped in Emotional decision-making. A very dangerous form of decision-making or Leadership. Emotional Leadership rings of an accident waiting to happen. However, this is so prevalent among our current battery of persons in Leadership positions, it’s scary.

When researching this topic of conscious versus unconscious Leadership I came across the following dissertation from Boundless :

“A leader's mood or emotions have an effect on the group in three major ways:

1. Leaders can influence followers through the mechanism of "emotional contagion." Those in an optimistic mood can effect their group in a positive way by instilling a positive outlook. For example, a charismatic leader can inspire feelings of confidence in a group's ability to achieve challenging goals.

2. Group affective tone refers to the collective mood of individuals. Groups with leaders in a positive mood have more positive feelings toward each other than groups with leaders who convey the opposite. The perceived efficacy of group processes such as coordination, collaborative effort, and task strategy can also effect the emotions of followers.

3. Public expressions of mood affect how group members think and act in relation to other group members. For example, demonstrating positive emotions such as happiness or satisfaction can signal that leaders acknowledge solid progress toward goals. Those signals influence how followers think about their work, which can benefit their work together.”

While this puts a very positive spin on Emotional Leadership, I submit that you have seen the same scenarios with the more normal spin that is not so positive. For example a Leader may be in a testy or stressful mood and the messages they deliver sound and feel as though there is nothing but ultimatums being delivered.

So, my point is that it is not uncommon to automatically turn to emotional responses for a whole host of reasons but none less than the pressure of being a Leader and the expectation that you MUST say something.

The beauty of the conscious approach to Leadership is that rather than trying to apply a technique and hoping it fits the situation, consciousness informs us moment-by-moment how best to go about the arduous task of Leadership.

Consciousness is the result of a commitment to be less emotional but more embracing of the larger picture as the Leader. Consciousness is the result of Preparedness. While there are an unlimited number of Leadership concepts and theories available to us, knowing or having a feel for how they might work together versus a standalone is critical. We explore the blending or complimenting of theories and concepts for your Evolutionary Leader tool Chest. However, be careful not to fall in love with one concept as the best because the situations a Leader must manage are varied from person to person and situation to situation. No two people or situations are identical.

Another Catch 22 is relying on Leadership styles that we have experienced as we have grown in our careers. When we attempt to copy someone else that we hold in high regard we are attempting to duplicate them. No one can duplicate someone else‘s behaviors for a whole host of reasons. One reason is that the content of their Leadership Character is structured on a personal its resource.

As such, by modeling others or what we perceive in others we are putting our future at risk by sacrificing our genuine or authentic self. We will talk about being authentic in another blog but know that at the center of the Concentric Leader philosophy is our quest to get you to knowing who that person as a Leader is and has the potential to become.

Let’s get back to the Conscious versus Unconscious Leader.

The Unconscious Leader is very natural to come up with answers to questions or challenges without a great deal of thought or research. It would appear that this type Leader is shooting from the hip in far too many situations and the next level of Leadership in the organization finds itself constantly serving as a bandage to decisions made but not too well thought through.

The Conscious Leader takes the time to research and develop the correct response in addition to something we often are drawn away from in making decisions – vision. A Conscious Leader has a vision that should be larger and more intact than anyone else in the organization. With this Vision there are answers to questions that haven’t been asked. Work the Leadership Vision to a point of maturity where you as the Conscious Leader provides Leadership that others are eager to follow.

See, you have the responsibility to Lead with a focused Consciousness. You must know not only the “What we are trying to do” but also the “Why we are choosing this path over another”. This is the Conscious Leader with a natural flare for our AAA (Awareness+Acceptance+Action).

All of this leads up to learning what your Leadership Thinking is. Your Leadership thinking greatly influences your Leadership behavior. Your Leadership Behavior is what others see and respond to. The Concentric Leadership team is the answer to getting you and your organization there.

You will never get 100% away from your unconscious mind but through our combined efforts you will become increasingly more adoptive of a Conscious mind and resulting Leadership Behavior on your path to Leadership Evolution.





Being Concentric

Posted on November 22, 2014 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Being Concentric

As our first blog I thought it most appropriate to both define and prepare readers of our ambition through the Concentric Leadership Institute.

There are many people seeking a pearl of wisdom in the area of Leadership or Leadership Development.  We were too and that is a large part of what lead us to create this information portal.  You may find a pearl of wisdom here or you may not.  I say you may not because Leadership is one of the most heavily written about professional topics anywhere, be it through the internet or hardcopy books and exercises.

Consistent with our efforts for clients and friends we researched a great deal with the definition of Leader or Leadership like many others.  Recently there was a question posed through one of the internet media sites asking, "What one word best describes Leader to you?"  It was interesting with nearly two thousand responses.  It would appear the majority presented words like, "Integrity" "Trust" "Clarity" and a host of others.  Since I'm writing this blog I thought I would share with you my response because it was the only one to use this word.  The word was/is "Preparedness".  Why Preparedness?

Thus the basic concept of the Concentric Leadership Institute.

In my mind Leaders or those that aspire to be Leaders must work at it before assuming the position and while in any position of Leadership.  As such, going into such a position with the intention of being the very best one can be, in our opinion, requires preparation.  All too often people are promoted, elected or hired into a position of Leadership and are so excited and relived to have the opportunity, they believe the work begins when they arrive.  Unfortunately, the majority of people in Leaderswhip positions today do not prepare by gaining a MINDSET of delivering prior to engaging.

The Concentric Leader has done a considerable amount of homework in areas such as: Structure, Environments, Technologies, Assets and Liabilities.  These are but a few of the areas a Concentric Leader will explore prior to moving into or pursuing a Leadership position.  The knowledge of a Concentric Leader in preparation of making a difference or IMPACT is critical to one's success.

When the word "Concentric" is in front of you it is not too difficult to think of circles or rings.   As a Leader realize there are an unlimited number of circles around you each and every day.  What is their relationship to one another?  How does one make them work in concert?  When is one circle or ring a priority versus others?  Much of this can become a natural thinking process for genuine Leaders versus occupants of this important seat.

The really important point of a Concentric Leader model is the center.  The center is where YOU must place yourself at all times.  You are accountable for the rings or circles.  You are the driver of the rings or circles.  You impact outcomes.  You have a direct IMPACT on the lives of the people within your realm of responsibility - it's really ALL about YOU!  

It's all about how YOU prepared for every engagement as a Leader.  Like the pebble landing in a still pool of water and rings immediately occur upon IMPACT, your role as a Leader has the same IMPACT but with a much mor forceful reaction to you just being there and everything you do and say from the moment you arrive.

We are the navigation team to help indiv iduals and organisations create a consciousness in you to last a very long time.