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Leading Change in the Workplace

Leading Change in the Workplace

There are many examples from the world of business that show us how important change and innovation are to an organization’s very survival. Take Blackberry for example. A few years ago they were industry leaders in the cellphone market, with their qwerty keyboards being especially popular amongst the business savvy.  But Blackberry seemed to get too comfortable, too complacent, and in essence, Research in Motion had stopped moving. In 2007, Apple came in with the iPhone, and the rest is history. Blackberry has been stuck playing catchup ever since.

Now, you may have questions, such as “How can my organization adapt to the chaos of a constantly changing market?” or “How can I embrace change in the workplace?” or better yet, “How can I lead change?

Dr. John Kotter, a retired professor at Harvard Business School, has developed an 8 step system that will show you how to lead change in your own organization. These steps may seem common sense, and probably are intuitive to many successful change-makers, but the way that Dr. Kotter lays it out, step by step, will really help you visualize the process. It will make those subconscious notions into something you will consciously notice. In a world of turbulence, it’s always better to have a plan that explains how a team leader can implement change in the workplace.

Step 1: Establish a Sense of Urgency!

The first step of leading change is building that feeling of ‘Something about this must be done!” and making people realize that the change will affect them for the better. If you don’t mind the mixed metaphors, the window of opportunity is only open for a limited time, so if you don’t seize the day, the iron will get cold. But that really is the message you want to get across, that feeling of true urgency that will have your people striving for real progress

It’s the same way how a sense of urgency can force you to get things done. If you know you have things to do, but you don’t have a set deadline for when to do them, it makes it so much easier to put it off and procrastinate. Think of procrastination as being like complacency, which are both anathemas to change.


Step 2: Generate the Guiding Coalition

Leading change is not a one-man (or woman) show, and the next step in the process is building the coalition, or team, that will guide your change initiative.  Your team not only has to be on the same page, but have the expertise and credibility to rally others to the cause. Think about who you would want on your team.

Remember that everyone has their areas of expertise, and you should choose people with complementary skill sets to ensure your coalition is well-rounded.  The people in your team should also have the leadership and power to drive change themselves.  It is critical that the members of your team trust each other, even though they may not agree with each other all the time.


Step 3: Developing a Change Vision

Think of your vision as the overarching theme of your change initiative.  It should act as the guiding force that connects your strategies, action plans and budget, while at the same time motivating the people in your organization. It should inspire and also serve as a basic understanding, a jumping-off point, for everyone involved.

It needs to be easily communicated and resonate with people, and make them want to join in on the change. Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be overly long or complicated. Indeed, there can be a certain beauty in simplicity. Remember Apple’s “Think Different” campaign?  The best visions are flexible, imaginable, and feasible.


Step 4: Communicating the Vision for Buy-In

The next step in developing your change vision is getting the word out, but it is more than just a numbers game. It needs to go beyond just telling people the vision; they need to understand and accept it. Ensuring that people understand and accept the vision comes from communication and consistency. A series of memos or speeches by the CEO is not enough.  The vision needs to be internalized into the day-to-day happenings of the organization as people need to see how it permeates all aspects of your organization from the education programs, to internal memos, to the quarterly meetings.


Step 5: Empowering Broad-Based Action

This step involves removing obstacles to change in order to empower the people to unleash their potential. The most common barriers are often structural, which arise out of the way the company is organized.  For example, the many layers of management and bureaucracy of some organizations can often hinder progress and waste time when it comes to making quick decisions.

Troublesome supervisors may also resist and be significant barriers to change, and the best way to deal with them is to be open and honest.  The goal should not be to manipulate or trick a troublesome supervisor into doing what you want; your end goal should be for them to become part of the team.

You should also keep in mind that your team members can also become leaders amongst their own groupsand sometimes you need to give up ownership of an idea because organizational change doesn’t just depend on one person, it depends on many. If you give people the power and freedom to go off on their own, you could be amazed at what they come up with.


Step 6: Create Short-Term Wins

This step involves breaking up what may seem to be an intimidating or insurmountable task into a series of smaller, achievable ‘wins’. With the vision you created in step 3 acting as a guide, you need to think of what you need to achieve to make it happen.  It may help if you start with the end goal in mind, and think of what you need to get there, and keep on going back until you reach the first step. Use this as an outline of what you need to do.

The short-term wins must be visible and unambiguous, and they will not only help keep track of progress but as you get more of these wins, it will build momentum.  This is related to the basic premises of SMART Goal Setting and Management by Objectives (MBO) theory.

Remember that even a marathon begins with a single step, and then another, and another, and repeat until you’ve run those 26 miles. Each short-term win is another step in achieving your vision.


Step 7: Consolidating Gains and Producing More Change

Keep moving forward, and do not give up. The long-term success of your change initiative depends on it. Do not lose that sense of urgency! Keep the pressure on and always be looking forward.

By this step, you should be beginning to see the fruits of your labor in the form of a growing list of short-term wins, growing support from senior leadership, and employee empowerment.


Step 8: Make it Stick

Making sure the changes become embedded in the organizational culture is the final step in Leading Change.  It needs to be ingrained in the culture and requires frequent communication and consistency. You must create an atmosphere that is supportive of the change and be able to show how the benefits clearly outweigh the old ways.

Change is a fundamental force that affects all things. Naturally, this also includes you, and your organization. We all know there are some changes that are inevitable and unavoidable, such as the passage of time (and taxes!), and the best way to deal with it is to try to lead it in the right direction.  I hope you will use the 8 Steps to leading change in the workplace as a guide to improving your organization.

It all starts with the first step. So, what are you waiting for?

To learn more about emotional intelligence and how it impacts your organization, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

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Leading With Your Creativity

Leading With Your Creativity

Today’s most famous leaders are innovative, creative, and think outside the box.

We look at someone like Steve Jobs, for example, the most creative leader of all time. Jobs thought of a unique and crazy idea that had never been thought of before, and even though some may have said his idea was absolutely insane, he went ahead with it anyway.  During this day and age, leaders need to be more innovative than ever.

So how do you become a creative leader? How do you know if your crazy idea is more than just a crazy idea?

The answer is… you don’t. Being a great creative leader means following your heart and doing what makes sense to you. If you believe something will be successful, then work at it until it is. The road to success will never be perfect, you will fail and you will succeed, but that’s just a part of life.

Jim Carrey one of the most eccentric actors of all time recently told a story about his father, and this story can teach all of us a very valuable lesson. Carrey talked about his father and how he always wanted to be a comedian but settled for a “safe” job as an accountant. Carrey’s father didn’t love his accounting job, but it was a stable job that put food on the table so he stuck with it. When Carrey was twelve, his father was let go from his “safe” job, and the whole family had to do everything they could to survive. At the end of Carrey’s speech he says, “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”

In order to be a creative leader, you don’t have to be the best; you just have to be willing to go first. You have to be willing to take a chance on your idea and your vision. Once you believe in your idea and your vision, the next step is to get others to believe in it as well. These people are your followers, and they will do wonders for you. Your followers are the ones that are going to make your crazy idea a reality.

Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.” In order to be a creative leader, you must see your vision and be passionate about it. Many people will tell you that it won’t work, but all you need is a few people and yourself to believe it will.  

Do you need help in leading with creativity? Book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can. 

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Mastering Self-Leadership

Mastering Self-Leadership

Self-leadership is the ability to use your own personal strengths efficiently and effectively as well as having a proper understanding of your own personal behaviors. It is characterized by the 8 c’s of self-leadership: compassion, clarity, curiosity, calmness, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness. It is the ability to use your own personal strengths efficiently and effectively as well as having a proper understanding of your own personal behaviors. The question we should ask ourselves is; how can we lead others when we are not able to lead ourselves? Mastering self-leadership applies not only to your business life but to your personal life also.


One of the most important things you need in order to be a self-leader is self-awareness. In order to be a great self-leader, we must be able to identify our own strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What do you need to improve on? Self-reflection is a great way to identify this. Once you are aware of what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, then you take on leadership roles that you will be good at in regards to your strengths, or that will personally challenge you in regards to your weaknesses.

Being a great self-leader also means being able to seek and be okay with feedback from others. When looking at our own strengths and weaknesses we can sometimes be biased. Seeking feedback from others allows you to get a different opinion, which may reveal something about yourself that you never thought of before. Although you may not always agree with someone else’s feedback, it is still extremely helpful to look at it from a different perspective. Sometimes we see ourselves differently than how others see us, and this is not always a good thing.

As a self-leader, you must always empower yourself as opposed to discouraging yourself.

Israelmore Ayivor stated, “those who mistrust their own abilities are being too wicked to themselves, discouraging themselves from doing what they should have been excelling in. If you are good at discouraging yourself, you can’t be a good leader because leadership is built on inspiring others to face challenges.”

In order to master self-leadership, you must truly know who you are, the good and the bad. You must be able to overcome challenges and take full responsibility for all your actions. You must be honest and truthful with yourself and others. Being a great self-leader means being the best you and embracing all your strengths and weaknesses. If you love, embrace, and are proud of who you are, others will shortly follow.

To learn more about emotional intelligence and how it impacts your organization, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

If you need help mastering self-leadership, book a call with us here; we’d love to offer self-leadership coaching or provide support in any way we can.

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Becoming a Transformational Leader

Becoming a Transformational Leader

The concept of transformational leadership has been a growing trend in business ever since it was first proposed by leadership expert and Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns in 1978. He said that transformational leadership occurs when leaders and followers help each other reach higher levels of morality and motivation. Over the years, this model has been expanded and adapted, to the point where it is one of the most well known and popular theories in the field of leadership. As the name implies, this model has the potential to not only fundamentally change organizations, but change the lives of the people within them.


What is transformational leadership?

Transformational leadership consists of 4 main components:

1. Idealized Influence

The leader is a charismatic role model that followers look up to and admire because they practice what they preach.

2. Inspirational Motivation

The leader has a clear vision and effectively communicates it to inspire and motivate their followers.

3. Individualized Consideration

The leader has a personalized approach, taking the time to listen to each and every member of the team, and genuinely cares about their well-being.

4. Intellectual Stimulation

The leader challenges the status quo and encourages creativity and innovation, giving team members space and freedom to do what they do best.

With regards to components 1 and 2, the leader’s charisma and personality are critical elements that affect a person’s willingness to follow, and while some leaders seem to be blessed with a natural charisma that makes them almost instantly likeable, don’t lose hope if it doesn’t come as easy for you. Just remember that how you interact and relate to people are skills, and like any skill, it too can be learned and improved.


Learning Leadership

A clear vision is a must, and as a leader, you need to be able to recognize when change is needed and be willing to lead it… while at the same time being open to ideas. Transformational leaders are often more egalitarian, and make themselves available for followers to come directly to them with their thoughts and ideas, skipping the hierarchical chain of command that can needlessly slow down the process. This also helps to build a sense of trust and belonging to the leader and team are both working towards a cause, a clear vision, in a cooperative effort.

The role of transformational leadership is to help gain autonomy and freedom to fully explore ideas. Therefore, transformational leaders believe in the power of the people, and make their people’s success the team’s success, and vice versa, to inspire and motivate them to reach their full potential. A major factor in the success of this leadership style is it believes that given the autonomy and freedom to fully explore their ideas, people can often thrive. Sometimes rules and step-by-step processes, although beneficial in the sense that they provide a framework, can be the anathema of creativity and innovation because of their limiting nature.

Now, you may be asking yourself if you are a transformational leader. Here is a quick test developed by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D (2009) that you can use to assess your transformational leadership traits:

  1. I would never require a follower to do something that I wouldn’t do myself.
  2. I have clear goals for my team.
  3. I find it comes naturally to inspire others.
  4. I celebrate the talents and successes of my followers.
  5. I am attentive when it comes to the personal needs of my followers.
  6. I challenge my followers to get out of their comfort zones.
  7. I believe that teamwork is the way to success.
  8. I encourage my followers to question their most basic way of thinking.
  9. Followers have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy are infectious.

Strong transformational leaders would agree with all of these statements, but even if you don’t, do not worry. Instead, use this test as a way to get inside the perspective of a transformational leader, to see how they think, and before you know it, you’ll soon be walking in those shoes.

Interested in learning more about transformational leadership? Carolyn Stern and the EI Experience team invite you to transform on one of their training courses.

To learn more about transformational leadership and emotional intelligence in the workplace, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

If you need help becoming a transformational leader, book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can.

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Coaching: Don’t Press Send On That Email!

Coaching: Don’t Press Send On That Email!

Have you ever sent an email message and then regretted it after it was too late?

A rule of thumb should be that whenever you need to have a difficult conversation or give feedback, you do it face-to-face, never send an email.

Words in an email are powerful and can be misconstrued.



Did you know…only 7% of what people hear are words, 38% is the tone of voice, and 55% is body language.  Both the tone of your words, and your body language cannot be seen or heard in an email; therefore, email communication can often be interpreted incorrectly, and the message may not be received with the intention it was sent.

Workplace coaching face-to-face is necessary to ensure your feedback is received appropriately when the need for a difficult conversation arises. Michael Massari, the VP of Caesars Entertainment, discusses with Forbes the importance of face-to-face communication and its impact on collaboration. Regardless of the industry, all businesses require the need to create prosperous partnerships, and that is done through building trust and engaging others in face-to-face communication.

Now, if you are investing this time into business partnerships outside of your organization, you should definitely be investing the same time into your people.


So, what drives effective leaders to make email mistakes?

Impulse control.

One of the 15 competencies in EQ-i 2.0 model developed by Multi-Health Systems (MHS) is impulse control – the ability to resist or delay an impulsive, drive, or temptation to act.

It is your impulse control that leads you to spew off a clever and snappy reply to the person who just sent you a nasty email.

But wait, breathe and figure out a strategy on how you are going to broach the difficult subject in person, face-to-face.

Like building any muscle…you need to work it to become stronger. To have bigger biceps, you need to do more bicep curls.

In order to build your emotional muscles, you need to work them.  To become better at controlling your impulses, you need to resist the temptation and don’t send an email, even if you really, really want to.


Impulse Control Best Practices

Try these best practices for Feedback that Works from the Harvard Business Review:

  1. Focus on business outcomes
  2. Give feedback often
  3. Don’t assume you are right
  4. Ask questions
  5. Follow-through
  6. Gather feedback on how you give feedback

Use the business outcome as an opportunity to solve problems rather than criticize the person you are speaking with. This allows for the chance for you to align your goals and find a solution together.

“Difficult feedback is rarely about getting the facts right, it’s about conflicting views, feelings and values. Reasonable people differ about all of these things.” – Robert Witherspoon

When you are coaching someone you should be looking at the whole picture, the business goals, their perspective, and the follow-through if necessary. Conducting these meetings face-to-face will build rapport, encourage your team, and develop their commitment to growth, so don’t do it over email!

Take a minute to reflect on your impulse control, does it affect how you respond to your team? Do you fall victim to your impulse control and press send too quickly?

To learn more about emotional intelligence and the purpose of coaching in the workplace, sign up for our biweekly newsletter here, where you will receive our latest updates, an inventory of resources, and much more!

If you need help with coaching and mentoring in the workplace, book a call with us here; we’d love to listen and provide support in any way we can.

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