I have been working through the acrostic DREAMS to describe the change process.
The first two letters were planning-related, Determine the Destination and Read the River. Now we will move from preparation to implementation with our next letter E, which stands for execute excellent leadership.
Years ago after going through guide training, I decided to buy a 12-foot Hyside raft to take my family rafting in. It was a beautiful boat with no dings or scratches on it at all. I intended to take great care of it so it could be passed on to generations to come! I was so excited that I could hardly wait to get everyone on the river.
We planned a trip and even though my kids were pretty young I figured we would do alright.
Once on the river, I realized that my wife and young children didn’t really give me much power and we were hitting rocks.
“Forward” I would yell. “Paddle Harder”.
“Come on! You need to paddle harder!”
We weren’t in any life-threatening situations. Most guides would have had fun with it turning it into a game. All I could think of were the scratches that were damaging my boat.
I was so obnoxious, my wife finally called a time-out and said “if you ever want us to go rafting with you again you need to figure out how to get down the river without yelling at us”
“This is your problem, not ours.”
She was right!
So I made the changes I needed to make so that we could have fun as a family.
When training new guides I make it clear that it’s never ok to blame your crew or complain about your guests.
The guide is first and foremost responsible for getting the raft downstream safely and efficiently. If the participants don’t have fun it is the guide’s problem, not the rafters.
1. Leaders must take responsibility and ownership for the results whether success or failure of the change.
Change guru Dr. John P. Kotter says that one of the common reasons that projects fail is due to inadequate leadership support. In a larger organization that could look like an executive steering committee made up of VPs or even C-level leaders. In a small company, it might be the business owner and a couple of key staff. Don’t start a change initiative until you are absolutely certain that you have the leadership commitment to see the project through to success.
2. Be committed to removing obstacles or at least figuring out how to get around them and remove distractions.
As we learned from “reading the river” there are many things going on along the way. One of the key roles of leadership is removing obstacles that are or could impede success. This needs to be done in a timely manner and not get bogged down in a bureaucratic process.
3. Move the boat. Set the pace and keep the momentum going.
The leader must be a good example. They need to set the pace and keep the momentum going. Once everyone can see that progress is being made it helps create the critical mass that is needed for long-term change.
4. Leaders must be willing to receive feedback on potential blind spots
Nobody is perfect. A leader must be willing to listen and seek out alternate viewpoints. If there are legitimate issues, then it is imperative that the leader works on making the changes needed.
Next up is the letter DREAMS where we will discover how to use your crew. Optimizing your human resource potential is essential for effective change.
Are you ready to become the best leader possible?
Are you willing to make the changes necessary to achieve excellence?
If so, I'd be happy to spend some time with you to help you through that process. To get things started you can schedule an initial meeting with me at www.chatwithdwight.com
Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.