Last week I introduced my change leadership trifecta. (By the way, these newsletters are archived on my website blog,, should you care to reference previous articles.)

Back in my corporate days, one executive attempted to change the culture of his organization. The culture, typical of the Midwest at the time, was generally easy going and risk adverse. The well-meaning executive used the phrase “fire in your belly,” to attempt to paint a picture of the results he was looking for. I suppose he meant that he wanted people to take more risk, to be advocates for change, but it wasn’t clear. Many thought he had indigestion, and wanted to prescribe Tums.

Politics aside, one feature of the slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is that the purpose is clear. You may not agree with the message, but you likely agree that the message is clear. When a leader paints a clear picture of what she wants to accomplish and does so in terms of outcomes, she has set the stage for a successful transformation.

There are two other features of clear purpose:
• People throughout the organization understand how they will need to behave differently. The “fire in your belly” executive may have been better served had he talked about what it means to be provocative, to take risks, and to challenge each other’s thinking.
• Employees want to understand the WIIFM, or “What’s in it for Me.” How do I, as an employee, benefit from the change?

When you don’t have a clear purpose, you have “aimless wander.” The transformation will lack priority, and the organization responds by demonstrating a lack of urgency, missing deadlines, deflecting and defecting. Employees will retreat to what is comfortable and known versus what is unclear or unknown.

There are three vital steps to ensure your purpose is clear:
1. State the purpose in terms of outcomes. Define how you want the organization to be different, and be as specific as possible.
2. Be sure the outcomes include changes in behavior. Be clear on your expectations on how people will work together differently. Structure is important, but don’t lose sight of the behavior change.
3. State these outcomes and behavior changes in terms of the WIIFM. Identify how the organization’s constituents will experience improvement because of the change.

When you do these things, you’ll be well on your way to driving a successful transformation.

Dedicated to your profitable transformation,

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