The thinking of a great leader
In my first article of the ‘Making Change Work’ series I introduced the power of the Critical Alignment Model and shared the importance of starting in Environment thinking to build alignment for successful change.
We are now going to dig deeper into the importance of the second stage of thinking which is entitled ‘Structure’. Now, this isn’t organisational structure, for example org charts, it is a level of leadership thinking and most importantly a method of thinking in categories and measurement.
Structure is a big dimension of thinking and truth be told, where the power lies to set you up for success.
This is the thinking of great leaders.
Let’s start with some of the benefits to thinking in Structure:
You will be able to:
So what is Structure thinking?
Structure is the quantitative characteristics of the organisation. It is the content we can impact and influence.
Structure includes (is not limited to):
- The divisions of the business
- The departments within the business
- The strategies
- The physical environment
- The equipment
- The systems
- The checklists and manuals
- The politics
- The best practices
- The KPI’s
- The benchmarks
Step one – Categories
Structure allows you to organise your thinking and goals into categories and priorities.
Imagine categories as buckets of content for which plans need to be built. The content will be the things you have to deal with, things that need to be addressed. This isn’t starting the implementation, it’s prioritising the plan.
Case study example:
A company wanted to introduce project management roles into their company.
At first the team had polar opposite beliefs on what they believed the role of project management was, and the perception of project management. So we made time for the team to become aligned on the vision, goals, beliefs, standards etc.
We didn’t move into Structure until we had educated the team to be aligned on their beliefs.
We then agreed the categories within Structure:
- The department set up
- The roles
- The new ways of working
- Client communication
- Commercial impact
- Talent audit and hiring
We assigned an owner from the leadership team for each category to drive ownership of the change.
Next, we ensured the categories were in priority sequence, so that we focused on the top three, and maximised effectiveness.
Finally we ensured the team was aligned on the goals for each of the categories. For example, the goal for ‘the department set up’ was to establish the feeling of one team made up of both the account and project managers.
Step two – Creating Strategies
The next critical step is to design your strategies for each category to achieve the desired outcome.
I witness too many companies setting their goals, and then regressing to the daily routine. So the team just keeps working as they have always been with blind hope the goal will be met.
This happens because the goals do not have any strategies. This step is often passed over.
I just don’t have time
If you are reading this and thinking – I just don’t have the time, we just need to get on with it, read on…
Think about how much time and money you lose when your change initiative doesn’t work. The pain to the culture of the business that re-enforces the belief that it’s ‘all words and no action’.
The upfront work that is required to make change happen is the demonstration of great leadership and leaders understanding their role. Remove yourself from the weeds and elevate your thinking to Environment and Structure, and you will finally get off the hamster wheel and achieve sustainable success.
Step three – Benchmarking.
When I question the majority of companies what their benchmarks of excellence are, I am often met with a prolonged silence.
If you do not have benchmarks, how do you know what you are aiming to achieve and if you have succeeded?
Action is not always sufficient, we need to question whether it was carried out in a way that achieved the desired outcome.
Benchmarks are best practice habits that help you succeed. They allow you to measure performance with facts, not with feelings or personal bias.
A simple example would be:
What is your benchmark for how your company phone is answered?
- Within how many rings
- The greeting
- Returning call time
Now you can track the progress, impact and consistency of hitting this benchmark of excellence for your company and your teams can manage their own productivity.
Some of the area’s you must have benchmarks for are:
- Customer service
- Ways of working
- Employee experience
I’m hoping this is helping you to see how important it is to spend time thinking in Environment and Structure before you just start DOING.
Without this level of leadership thinking, you will see your change ideas weaken. You really do need this solid foundation to build change that is effective and lasts.
Join me next week for part 3, where we will explore how to make implementation productive and seamless.
I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.
If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here.