Leadership and Change

by Mike Sleppin

Mike Sleppin's specialty is creating significant positive change in people-intensive industries whose business environment is changing rapidly. For example, since 1989, Mike has worked with firms touching every facet of the construction, transportation and printing industries as well as the other professional groups (Architects, Accountants, Engineers, Commercial Insurance etc) that service those niche markets. As a highly experienced, global business traveler, he helps small to mid-sized organizations understand and plan for their successful expansion into global markets. As a result of Mike's body of work, organizations achieve the goals that are important to them on a regular and consistent basis.

The ultimate test of whether you are an effective leader is: do you get things to happen, and do they get done effectively. That is the test results you should be measuring. All else is commentary. These last few years have been difficult for leaders. Only the very best leaders have been able to overcome or minimize the adverse effects of an economy that is the worst since the great depression. Only the most effective leaders will be able to ride the slow upward swing of the economy.

Do you inspire the people who depend upon you? Do you live in the future or do you pour more and more into less and less because you don't understand what the future portends? If you live in the past, read Best-Buy, Eastman Kodak, RIM, K-mart, etc., you have no idea what to change, what not to change, why things should be changed, and therefore you will have no idea who to recruit, who should be promoted and who should be let go.

If you are not focusing on strategy, the questions should be why not? The systems that were right for yesterday may not be the systems that are right for tomorrow. The teams in place for yesterday's world, are they the teams that will still be right for tomorrow?

In too many organizations these questions are either never addressed or are addressed after the battle has already been lost.

Since change is not a rational process, what should you do as a leader? Change in an organization is a process of social transformation. Your job is to teach the people why they need to get on board as you begin to prepare the organization for change. If you are seeking resentment and resistance, make sure to keep people in the organization in the dark. People fight tooth and nail to prevent change. The American Civil War is a wonderful example of what happens when people believe that change will not be in their best interests.

Once you have a strategic plan in place, so that upper management knows what should happen, you can begin to build a constituency to gain support for the changes necessary to bring the plan to life.

A general who has the support of the troops will win. The general who behaves like the bosses of yesterday ("Chainsaw" Al Dunlap who destroyed Sunbeam because he was a mean bastard who must of thought he was a God) will destroy the organization. This generation of employees will sabotage every effort you the leader makes.

It's the beginning of the year, get started today!