Ahead of change or behind the times?
As chief executive officer, you are the starter of change—and the stopper of change. Nothing significant in your organization happens that you don’t allow, including atrophy. Failure with change is easy. Leading change is hard. Leading change that works is harder still. Smart CEOs, as chief change agent, stay ahead of change to set the path that achieves the intended results.
Since 2009, the U.S. has seen unprecedented releases of CEOs who were held accountable for failures with change inside their organizations—either by omission or commission. Why does change cause so many failures?
Easy Failures with Change
Easy Failure #1—Bad Decisions. The CEO who allows the organization to make flawed strategic decisions destines failure from the get-go. Too easily, CEOs get sidetracked by complacency, pet projects, executive ego, managing for outside opinions, or following an unanalyzed industry trend.
Easy Failure #2—Poor Leadership. If half of organizational changes fail due to bad decisions of WHAT to change, then the other half of failures are caused by HOW the changes were executed. A bad change process or bad timing will ruin even good decisions.
Easy Failure #3—Unclear Results. When the CEO hasn’t made clear where the organization needs to go, any path managers and employees choose will get them there.
Easy Failure #4—Unengaged Workforce. Micro-management is the fastest way to kill employee engagement. When a CEO or top executive over-directs the organizational change, participation of other levels of employees is quickly squashed.
Easy Failure #5—Invisible CEO. Under-involvement of the CEO and top leaders is equally as damaging as over-involvement. Low CEO commitment or visible support throughout the change effort is taken as a sure sign that the change is not important and no one is watching.
CEOs who are ahead of change know how to avoid these failures. Staying ahead of change is the make-or-break skill for CEOs in the next decade. Here is a proven strategy for top executives to ensure their organization gets the desired results from their change efforts, while gaining the involvement and commitment of their workforce talent throughout. Use these five key actions to guide your strategy for change:
CEO Change Action #1: Determine the strategic change that’s time has come—the next big thing.
CEOs ahead of change are pushed by urgency while pulled by the future. To make the right decisions at the right time, decisively, CEOs must consider:
- Information—get the right people in the room
- Strategic thinking—focus on the big picture at this stage
- Risks and opportunities—noodle multiple scenarios
- Unfulfilled customer needs—identify expressed and potential needs
- Leadership courage—have the hutzpah to think differently