It is interesting to read the headlines about the Millennial generation that has now become such a prominent player within corporate America. Headlines like "Boomers Out, Millennials In" are very telling in how we engage with everyone around us, in every facet of our lives.
I have worked in many different industries throughout my career, and have noticed similarities when it comes to change management and leadership. I even see the same patterns played out in politics and cultural/minority issues as well.
Even as generational "regimes" change I don’t see any real change taking place; just different faces, different ideas and different agendas. "How" they go about it never seems to change.
Here are three attitudes I have seen in every industry I have worked in, and they don’t bring about positive change:
It’s Our Turn
Often said in the form of "When I become the boss, I will…." We all had experiences that we didn’t like, or we thought could have been handled better.
When we are the peons in the organization we speak of great change for the majority. We believe we understand all of the "oppressed" people around us, and therefore we have the solutions.
Unfortunately, most people get into those higher positions and give into the temptation to "take their turn" at experiencing the good life. They have earned it, so it’s ok that their ideals of listening to and serving those beneath them are put on he back burner.
Power, even at a very low level, easily corrupts our good intentions. So, getting "Our Turn" by itself, is never enough.
My Ideas Will Work
Then there are those who get "their turn" and actually remember their past journey. The had some great ideas about how things should be when they were the low person on the totem pole.
When they get their turn to lead, they begin to implement their ideas. Unfortunately, that is exactly the problem: They are using theIr own ideas. Not only are they from a myopic viewpoint, they are most likely several years old and may not be the best ideas anymore.
In this leader’s defense, they can be the ideas from their crew; those people they rose through the ranks with them. Which becomes "Our Ideas Will Work" and can be even more difficult to overcome, because they just continue encourage each other and tell each other that they are right. Too often they ram the new ideas through, with all sincerity and belief that they will work.
Which leads us to the third damaging attitude….
People Will Understand On The Other Side Of Change
Leaders don’t typically say it out loud, or use these exact words. It typically comes out as, "They don’t see the big picture," or "They will appreciate it once it’s all in place."
"They" seldom do. They are too busy wondering why the leaders that promised to do it differently are still doing it the exact same way the former leaders did.
You see, these three attitudes are focused on the wrong thing. They are focused on the outcome or the "what" they were going to do.
The leaders before them were most likely doing that as well. They didn’t like what the leaders before them were doing, so they only changed the "what" was being done, but are utilizing the same "how."
Most people are really frustrated with the "how."
People can handle the "what" changing if the "how" is done correctly. The what’s are always changing. That’s what circumstances do; they change! And they change constantly.
The really great leaders look back and see "how" things were done. They remember:
– How the leaders treated them when they were the low person.
– How the leaders listened (or didn’t listen) to those they led.
– How the leaders were willing to use other people’s ideas.
– How the leaders gave (or took) credit for the groups success.
The "what" keeps us focused on ourselves, our ideas and the outcomes we want.
By focusing on the "how" we can remain focused on others, their ideas and the outcomes the group wants.
A good start is to ask: "How did I want to be treated, included, and utilized when I was in their position?"
An even better start is to ask those you lead: "How do you want to be treated, included and utilized?"
So, when you find yourself focusing on what you believe needs to be changed, just remember the most important question to answer is how the change should take place.