How your personal behavior influences the success of your transformation

I received a call from an organization that was interested in my Activate workshop to handle a behavioral problem in the organization that was creating roadblocks to success. The caller was not a senior leader, but someone in the talent organization. I asked them to introduce the CEO and they declined saying, “Mr. X has asked us to deal with the challenges we are facing; he doesn’t like to deal with these personal, behavioral issues.”

I politely declined the opportunity to work with them.

In my experience, senior leaders are essential to leading transformative change – particularly when that change requires changing behavior in the organization. If the leader is unable to model the desired behavior, it will be many times more difficult to successfully change behaviors in the organization, if at all.

Here are three traits I look for in leaders of successful transformational change:

  1. They realize and are open about the fact that they do not have all the answers. They are willing to engage with others on a peer-to-peer basis to learn more about the impact they are having on the transformation. They are willing to personally confront their own insecurities and act to ensure these don’t negatively impact the transformation.
  2. Leaders have the courage to face other leaders and their employees. They are willing to have difficult conversations with those who might require it. They are willing to reveal more about major challenges. They are more genuine in their approach to the transformation when interacting with others.
  3. Selfless leaders do what it takes to lead through the transformation. They eliminate selfishness from their lives. They give freely of their time and energy to drive things forward. And they do all of this with little thought about the cost to them personally.

Call to action: Set aside one hour to reflect on these traits. Determine how you measure up. Define steps or changes in your own behavior to implement greater effectiveness in your transformational leadership.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,


Why you should define structure before you define culture


One of my executive clients asked me to help resolve a cultural issue that was hampering his ability to transform his organization. Upon examination, I discovered he had a significant problem with cross-functional dysfunction because people didn’t understand expectations across the organization.

I interviewed a few of his top leaders and facilitated a conversation about the work in their areas and the requirements they had of each other. In some cases, leaders had no idea what other leaders needed to be successful in their respective organizations.

We scheduled two more meetings where we included selected middle managers. Here we discussed in more detail the requirements from one another and how we would fulfill those. We also noted that this transformation would require employees to work together differently than was previously required. Employees would need to better cooperate and collaborate more frequently. We defined the required behavioral characteristics and the outcomes required from those behavioral changes.

We then devised a plan the middle-managers used to drive the implementation. Voila! Success.

Lesson learned? Sometimes we try to change behavior without being clear about the structural outcomes or structural implications. Structure and culture work together to make an organization more efficient and more successful.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,