The Most Difficult Thing for a Leader to Change

Clients of The Latimer Group have heard me say, many times, that the hardest thing for any organizational leader to do is to change the way his or her people actually behave. If you want to reinvent your organization, you can add or subtract business units, product lines, services, locations, etc, etc, etc. You can make yourself bigger or smaller, more global or more domestic. You can make a decision to hire people with different skill sets. You can change lots of things about your organization. But the hardest thing to change is the way your people actually behave.

Why? Because human beings are creatures of habit, and every year millions of “New Year’s Resolutions” get forgotten within weeks and eventually we go back to what we are used to doing.

Yet, we hear all the time, a desire from executives and business leaders to change the culture or work habits or communication styles within their organization… something that is really hard to execute and make stick.

So how do you do it?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Be specific about the behaviors you want to see. Generalities will get you nowhere.

2. Be specific about WHY the new behaviors are important. Don’t just tell people what to do, tell them why it is good for the company, good for their group, good for them. Smart employees will always ask “why” and you want them to. You want inquisitive people working for you.

3. Make sure (and this is the most important part) that management is taking the lead and exhibiting the behaviors that you are asking others to exhibit. The change can’t be hollow. It has to be led by the top people.

As you are thinking about your team or your organization in the 21st century business world, ask yourself if your people behave or interact with others in ways that make your organization what you want it to be. And if you do not like what you see, start thinking hard about how you will change those behaviors. It is not easy and will require great thought and dedication from organizational leadership.

Have a great day!

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Brett Slater

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.