Leading and communicating during times of change is a challenging endeavor, especially in the fast-paced landscape of today's technology-driven world. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated these challenges, exposing the vulnerability of organizations' trust and credibility. As we delve into the art of leading through change, it's vital to acknowledge that once trust is lost, rebuilding it becomes an arduous task. This blog introduces an exercise that can revolutionize your leadership and communication, particularly amid disruptive changes.
The Immutable Laws of Leading Through Change
Three fundamental truths hold paramount significance when navigating change:
- Transparency is Paramount: In an era of instant information dissemination, transparency is no longer optional—it's an imperative. Organizations that underestimate the importance of transparency often find themselves mired in public distrust. The lack of transparency witnessed during the COVID-19 crisis eroded trust in institutions worldwide. Remember, it's far better to be transparent proactively than to face the repercussions of forced transparency.
- Authentic Motivations Matter: Human beings are adept at sensing authentic intentions. Your motivations should stem from a place of genuine concern, not self-interest. Attempts to deceive are often recognized, ultimately damaging relationships and credibility. Authenticity that considers multiple perspectives fosters a healthy communication environment.
- The Power of Truth and Authenticity: Communicating the truth, while being deeply authentic, is paramount. Authenticity doesn't mean sharing everything indiscriminately; it involves truthfulness that takes into account various viewpoints. Believing that your team can handle any information and supporting them in doing so can lead to remarkable outcomes.
A Transformative Exercise for Leading Through Change
Now, let's explore an exercise that can reshape your approach to change leadership. It involves two steps for both your audience and yourself:
Step 1: Expose the Monkey Mind: The monkey mind, our internal chatterbox, often fills us with self-doubt and negativity. Verbalize these thoughts aloud, acknowledging their presence.
Step 2: Craft an Empowering Self-Image: Counter the monkey mind by creating a positive self-image. For instance, as a leader, you can envision yourself as an excellent communicator, courageous, and dedicated to service. This inspiring self-image replaces the monkey mind's negativity.
Unveiling the Science Behind the Exercise
This exercise might sound unconventional, yet it has a scientific foundation. Our unconscious facial expressions, body language, and vocal tones reveal our emotions. By practicing this exercise, you align your unconscious signals with your authentic message, projecting confidence and credibility. It's like aligning your internal compass with your true north.
In one personal experience, amidst skepticism from an audience, persistence in staying aligned with the created self-image led to an unexpected standing ovation. The exercise helped maintain congruence between spoken words and unconscious signals, transforming the communication outcome.
Leading through change necessitates a blend of authenticity, transparency, and genuine motivation. This exercise isn't mere Californian mystique; it's grounded in the science of aligning internal and external signals. Whether you're addressing a small team or a large audience, the power of authentic communication can guide you through even the most tumultuous changes. Embrace this exercise, reshape your approach, and witness the profound impact on your leadership journey.
If you're interested in learning more about Operational Change, consider enrolling in our upcoming course Fostering Continuous Change. Our course is designed to Acknowledge the importance of support function roles to enhance the learning capacity and capabilities of your team.
This blog is based on one of our GovEd Talks Video series: Leading Trough Change: How to communicate effectively in times of stress and change by John Bates, CEO Executive Speaking Success.