Credibility must be a top priority when leaders present a case for transformation, writes Augusto Giacoman for Strategy+Business.
Even the most logical proposals for change can be met with suspicion and resistance unless executives deliver them with integrity. But how do you consistently get your message across to your teams in a positive and believable way?
By taking three key steps, leaders can allow their sincerity to shine and have a greater chance of success. A “credibility first” transformation model advocates:
1) Reassessment. Examine your own personal values. Even if you think you know what is important to you in daily life, a fresh and genuine reassessment can be enlightening, especially when facing tough decisions.
Keep an accurate note of which activities take up most of your time over the course of a week. Then look at the numbers and analyse the results.
If you spent a lot of time coaching and mentoring, this indicates that you value helping others to succeed. Prioritising meetings might mean that collaboration and consensus are important to you.
An exercise from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests considering your funeral and how you would like to be remembered by loved ones and colleagues. Your answers will reveal which qualities you value on a personal level.
2) Alignment. Check your values sit well with the changes you want to achieve. Now you know what is important to you personally, how does that line up with the transformation you are making? Cost reductions and job losses, for example, may be essential for the desired changes, but leaders can struggle with the personal consequences for employees.
“Although a leader may be loath to reduce head count, he or she might connect with the potential to free up funds for investments in capabilities that improve customer service or that grow the business in other areas,” writes Giacoman.
Offering alternatives can be an option. Online shoe retailer Zappos tested employees’ backing for a radical management transformation by offering everyone the choice of a severance package. The 82% who opted to stay with the company were seen to be consciously committing to the new regime.
3) Lead by example. Put your values into action. Walking your talk doesn’t always come naturally. Even if your values and company strategy are streamlining nicely, credibility can sometimes benefit from an active change in your behaviour.
Try the following tactics:
Ask your peers for feedback. Are your actions true to your stated values? Do your actions match your words? Do your values support the transformation?
Talk to a mentor or coach. Ask for help to identify new behaviours to boost your credibility.
Share these deliberate behaviour goals with your peers so they can help keep you on track.
Be mindful about implementing behaviour changes alongside your goals for transformation.
Investing time in a credibility-first transformation plan can reap rich benefits, says Giacoman. Not only can you win the ongoing trust and commitment of your team at key times of change, but you can also boost your overall effectiveness as a leader.