Out with the old and in with the new

The world is changing. Transformation is taking place all around us. From the way we gather and distribute information to how we attract and retain talented employees, businesses must proactively shape change to maintain a competitive edge. Effective leaders – never satisfied with the status quo – inspire others to embrace change. 

As we face constant and complex changes in business, leadership is changing as well. Gone are the days of commanding and controlling leadership styles, as they are no longer effective. As a boomer, I would do as directed as long as I felt I was valued and could grow with the organization I worked for. Now, we experience four or five generations in the workplace and many of these incredible innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs long to be part of something special, something bigger than themselves. They want to connect with their colleagues, their team members and their bosses. They want to feel inspired and take pride in their work. They want to admire their leaders. 

We must be deserving of this admiration. We must spend less time telling and more time coaching, giving people an opportunity to imagine solutions to help our company go where we envision. We need to be less authoritative and we must collaborate with our people to harness their collective potential – and ours, as an organization. To be admired as leaders, we must realize great leadership in today’s marketplace is about aligning our team to get things done in an optimum way rather than yesteryear’s way of doing it our way – the “right” way.

Effectively leading people through change is your job as a leader. You can unleash the extraordinary potential of your organization by inspiring focus, gaining productivity and opening the door to innovation. 

Here are a few guidelines from my new book, Aspire… to lead. It was written to help leaders transition to this new way of working around, with and through their teams. Over the past 20 years, I have seen the power of great leaders and the impact of mediocrity. As most of us receive on-the-job training when promoted for high performance, we are often unprepared for the additional responsibility and skills necessary in our newly acquired leadership position. This new book in the Aspire series publishes next month and I have included some of the nuggets that will help you embark on this new leadership journey here:

•    Stay clear on what matters most. Move past the minutia that dilutes day-to-day focus.
•    Inspire and engage your people, developing accountability.
•    Align your organization to deliver – reaching goals and meeting expectations.
•    Weather the inevitable storms and leverage the opportunities they present.

Be today’s leader by being a skillful instigator. If you are not an agent for change, someone else will do the job. Driving significant change requires that you take your business personally. Your relationship with your peers – and your customers – is personal. Your pride in your work is personal. And understanding how to inspire your people to take risks with you is personal. As a leader, it is your duty to illuminate the path forward so others can follow you to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Shift your approach from reactive to proactive. Be strategic to better control the outcomes as change and chance are only different by one letter and yet worlds apart. 

Remember, change is how we grow, both as individuals and as organizations. As a progressive leader, take it even further. Embrace the change, as it will happen – either to us or through us – and remember to look for progress, not perfection. 

We all know our organizations won’t evolve or grow if we are complacent, doing things as they have always been done. Change is progress. Look forward for never-ending improvement through proactive evolution. Think seriously about using the term “evolution” rather than the word “change.” It reduces the fear factor. And buy my book because the challenge is formidable… and DOABLE.

Renie Cavallari is founder, CEO and chief instigator of Aspire, a captivating speaker, author, leader, coach, and strategist who has driven measurable results for businesses around the world for more than 30 years. Cavallari is the author of Aspire to Lead, the second book in the Aspire… series, publishing December 2014. It is an in-depth look at the leadership principles and strategies that have grown revenues, profitability and customer retention for some of the world’s most respected leaders. The book provides a 360-degree view of what it takes to lead today and includes tools to help strengthen your leadership muscle.