Focus on Progress Leadership Not Change Management


Contributed by Dean Lindsay author of Creating Progress In A World Of Change, a keynote speaker and author of award-winning How to Achieve Big PHAT Goals.

Just because a business or organization is getting bigger does not mean it is progressing. A serious challenge for businesses large and small is to progress—and not just change. The business term “change management” has been around for a good long while.

The term relates to “initiating significant change” within an organization’s processes. This change can include anything from altering work culture to embracing diversity to modifying an individual’s work tasks to increasing company morale and loyalty.

If the reasons don’t connect with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely change and will be resisted or at least not acted on. Team members may still physically clock in but have often mentally checked out.

The goal of “initiating significant change” is solid, but where is the passion in the focus and word choice? A big problem with the term change management is that no one desires to change or plans to change. We desire and plan to progress. We do not want managers to manage our change. We want leaders to lead our progress. Let’s call “initiating significant change” what it truly is (or should be): Progress Leadership.

Moving our focus from change management to progress leadership creates a shift in power from wielding power over employees to creating power among employees. Shifting our focus from change management to progress leadership creates a work culture in which empowered employees are committed to finding what is truly the next step forward.

Progress leadership means striving to help others find meaning in their work. Progress leadership means working to understand and communicate how a team member’s personal goals can dovetail with the organization’s goals and thus create true commitment that gets the team member to act—because he or she wants to, not because they have to.

It takes more than the title of supervisor, manager or “change agent” to lead people in the direction of progress. We all want to be in relationships with people, as well as partner with organizations that bring progress to our lives. Without personal commitment to execute, new organizational plans and initiatives often fail. Execution is assured by establishing clear links between operations, strategy and team members.

I have come to believe that everything humans do is done because we believe, consciously, or more often subconsciously, that the projected consequences of those actions will be us feeling the right unique mixture of six core feelings, feelings now known as Lindsay’s Six Ps of Progress:

  1. Peace of Mind
  2. Pleasure
  3. Profit
  4. Prestige
  5. Pain Avoidance
  6. Power

Intense focus on feelings in a time of transformation is often described as the “human side of change management.” This always gives me pause. The “human side” of business—what other side is there? Some might say the company side. So then, the company and the humans are on different sides? That’s the problem right there. Companies are formed by people (humans) partnering to get their wants and needs met by helping other people (humans) get their wants and needs met. Leaders who do not take the individual into account and do not plan for the human side of Progress often find themselves scratching their heads about where their plans went wrong.

In a time of continual transformation, committed leaders should focus on inspiring the progress, not apologizing for the change. Don’t just tell people what to do. Include others in the progress as well as the process. It is reasons that shape, nourish and sustain the thoughts that create the actions necessary to reach desired results.

The people we desire to inspire to action (lead, do business with, etc.) must believe that our ideas, our products, our services, our leadership and our initiatives will help them to move forward. Solid trust must be in place before we can even hope others will choose to alter their lives to include us. We must be seen as catalysts in others’ progress, agents in their progress. We must be Progress Agents, not Change Agents.

In Creating Progress In A World Of Change, progress agent Dean Lindsay offers tools to inspire progress-based action, in order to reap the bounty of higher performance in organizations.



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