Change Management: Changing Lanes – Remember to use the blinkers!

Posted on 25. Jul, 2011 by in Blog, Change Management, Servant Leadership

We were at the 4-way stop. The one at the edge of town, always busy with several cars lined up in each direction.

Straight through the stop sign to access the local farmer’s market. A right turn earns a peaceful afternoon at one of several local wineries. Turn left and quickly arrive at a gas station and loop back into civilization.

It’s one of those intersections where you hope at least 3 drivers are paying attention.

Changing Your Organization - use your signals

Signal change using the "3 Cs"

Alot of people.

Alot of choices.

Alot of movement.

Many accidents have occurred at this concrete patch. Most times as a result of a driver wrongly predicting the moves of another driver.

Yesterday, as my husband and I were waiting our turn at this popular junction, sure enough, one of the drivers neglected to use a blinker – the turn signal to let the other 3 drivers know of her intentions. My husband commented, “traffic sure flows better when people just remember to use their blinkers!”  Yep.

Interestingly enough, no horns blared, no shaking fists or other gestures flew out of  car windows, just a massive “tentativeness” permeated the area. For the next 2 sets of drivers navigating their turns, hesitation, unsurety, and a lack of trust regarding intentions clogged the area.

Was the driver going to turn or go straight?  The right turn signal is on – does he mean it?  Can I trust the signal or lack of a signal? Is he going to go straight after all or did he forget to use the blinker and is about to turn?

People ended up, well – stuck.

This same thing happens in organizations – businesses, schools, churches, (families too) when “the driver,” otherwise called “leader,” neglects to signal a “lane change,” “turn” or any other change in direction.

When we neglect to clearly share our intentions, we leave people wondering, tentative, and unsure about their next steps. Sometimes even bigger issues are ignited –  Trust Issues. And once the trust foundation is shaken, the workload doubles as you have to repair trust and still drive the required change.

Just like at the 4 way stop,intentions are honorable. People just get in a hurry and forget. So before you start the change process, a quick reminder.

Remember  the 3 Cs:


Failing into Success

Posted on 16. Feb, 2011 by in Blog, Change Management, Servant Leadership

I’ve quoted this for so many years, almost thought it was mine:

“Are you green and growing or ripe and rotting?”

Originally stated by Ray Kroc, founder of the McDonald’s empire, the quote is reiterated by Derek Sivers in his worth viewing YouTube Clip:

When driving change and new projects, many leaders think they must have all the answers.  For some, it’s difficult to say 3 magic words:

I don’t know.

It didn’t work.

Let’s try again.

Another fantastic resource on the topic of driving lasting change and developing a growth mindset is the book, SWITCH by Chip and Dan Heath. Clear, well written, great insights – and with a sense of humor!

A Must for leaders driving change.

Authentic, Servant Leaders know the value of a growth mindset. Experimenting. Learning. Sharing.


Leaders Leading WITH Leaders

Posted on 01. Feb, 2011 by in Blog, Leadership and Development, Servant Leadership, Teamwork

Team Tug-a-wars!
Team Tug- Wars

Team Tug- Wars!

We talk  about how to lead followers – but what about leading leaders?

Or, more specifically, how do we effectively team with other leaders  to drive changes, hammer out a new initiative, raise funds, promote an idea to the Board – or – participate effectively as a Board member?

We see it all the time.  And, we cope by joking and complaining about the  “power struggles,” bullying, and begin to label our teammates with not so nice labels.

When working with a team of strong willed, independent thinkers, convinced that their way is the only way, here are some survival tips:

1. Listen 80%, Talk 20%

It’s amazing what we learn when we genuinely listen. Not  speaking or focusing on our next brilliant utterance, but listen to what is really being said by others.  Valuable team time can be squandered when we are not really listening to each other. And, it’s easy to move into conflict when we begin to make assumptions about what we think we are hearing when only half listening. Try applying the 80/20 rule to listening in team meetings and see what the true landscape is.

2. Ask Clarifying Questions – Don’t Assume.

There is a reason that the word ASSmption begins with those first 3 letters…. Take time to clarify what you think you hear, especially if the comment seems out of line with the discussion or what you expect. It also helps if the question is asked with respect, without hidden agendas and in true question format. For example:

Do ask:, “Fred, are you saying  you believe the delivery should be next week as opposed to this week?

Don’t ask: ” Fred, you can’t possibly mean that the delivery should be this week as opposed to next week!”  [Besides being a statement as opposed to a question – the real statement is the underlying tone – “Fred, you idiot! You can’t possibly mean that the delivery….” You get the idea.

I see this in teams – alot. The not so subtle “clarification” that is really intended to coerce the other party back to the speaker’s way of thinking. The attitude in which a clarifying question is asked is just as important as the question.

3. Focus on the problem that needs to be solved – not the personalities.

Tug-of-wars in meetings can pop up without much warning when the focus is on each other  rather than the problem to be solved.  If a team is debating more than required to uncover data that helps the decision making process, shift the focus. If in a room together, shift focus to the problem on a whiteboard or flip chart. If in online meeting, highlight in meeting tool and/or verbally restate what you think the problem to be solved is- sometimes, just restating the problem statement, will refocus attention. Arguing is guaranteed to diminish as you partner with each other to solve the issue at hand.

4. Remember, as a servant leader – it’s not about you.

Skilled leaders, remember that it’s not about “winning” or “losing.”  It’s about driving the new initiative forward. Enabling the change to occur, etc. The best outcome is the one where something gets done, all feel engaged, energized and respected.

Where can you shift focus this week and team with your leadership colleagues to make a difference?

Would You Dance?

Posted on 12. Jan, 2011 by in Blog, Leadership and Development, Servant Leadership

Perhaps Kenny’s leadership approach of  “give them candy”  works for 10 year olds;

O.K.,  us older ones as well.  But let’s take another look at how leadership – happens,

as demonstrated in the following clip by Derek Silvers.

This clip illustrates a key principle of Servant Leadership.

As a leader, from the very beginning –

It’s not about you.

Also, a great reminder that leadership takes courage, simplicity, and a willingness to be authentic.

If you were captured dancing in this video, where would you be?

The first follower?                 The leader?               Later in the pack?

Servant-Leadership – not an Oxymoron

Posted on 14. Jun, 2010 by in Blog, Servant Leadership

This question came to me last week.

What is Servant-Leadership? Really, isn’t that an oxymoron?


Isn’t leadership – well, just leadership?

Not that I’ve seen. There are many different styles, methods, and concepts associated with the term leader.

There are plenty of folks in leadership positions. Unfortunately, not very many of them are servant-leaders.  Robert K. Greenleaf is credited as the modern day creator of the of Servant-Leadership concept.  Also, James C. Hunter has excellent reading on the topic.  You can check out the BridgeLite resources page for links to some of their books for further exploration.

The following is a quick explanation of what makes servant-leaders different and why it matters.


Focus on the people they serve more than on themselves.

It’s about the team, organization, company – not the leader. A servant-leader wants to serve the people as the primary motivation for what he or she does in leading them.  The servant-leader provides the service (not to be confused with servitude) of leadership.

They love the people they lead.

As John Wooden said, “You don’t have to like them, but you do have to love them.”  Servant-leaders want the people they lead to be their best; do their best, because it’s the best for them, individually and collectively. As a servant-leader, you may not like their behavior or choices. You may want them to do things differently, but you love them anyway.  This concept is probably the best understood by parents and pet owners.

The opposite of a servant-leader is a leader primarily motivated by wanting to be the top dog, big boss, the one in front. This leader primarily wants to lead people because of their own aspirations or ego.

Who are some examples of servant-leaders?

Although not necessarily classified as servant-leaders, the concept of this type of leadership style has deep roots in history.  Some of the more famous ones are:

Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Gandhi.

And this matters so much because?

When leading, coaching, or mobilizing people to do anything… the heart matters.

If you want to initiate a new strategic direction, influence a change in the organization, or correct a situation that has gone awry, when people are connect via heart, heads follow.  People perceive attitudes whether unspoken or spoken. They will know if the leader is primarily interested in their well being – or not.

Have you worked with a servant-leader? If so, how did it make a difference?