I am back and hopefully for another good stretch of writing consistently.Life really does throw curve balls and I am learning to roll with them and not beat myself up about things. I thought a book review would be a great way to ease myself back in to writing in long form.
Change Friendly Leadership by Dr Rodger Dean Duncan was a team secret santa gift last Christmas. I remember noticing that everyone else got really funny and cute gifts and I got a book.Not just a book but a book on change and leadership!People who know me would probably think it was the perfect gift. But I felt both flattered and bemused. I really appreciated the gift as I love books but I also pondered on being the only person with a “serious” gift. Did I give out vibes of someone who took herself too seriously? I certainly didn’t want to come off as “that” person!
It was a thought that was forever banished when I eventually got round to reading the book in July this year. Now I can only say thank you to my now ex-colleague (but still friend). It was such a fantastic read and a book that I am so glad to have on my bookshelf. Even though I work in the change,transformation and improvement space, I believe everyone manages change in some form or the other. As with most books I read,I try to distill key lessons or ideas and thought to share my five key ones from this book.I have adapted these lessons and they can be applied in any change context i.e. personal and organisational.
The book was written by seasoned change consultant, Dr Rodger Dean Duncan who owns a consulting practice that focuses on leadership and performance improvement.In the book he explores why despite the good intentions of leaders,most change efforts have a high failure ratio. In the book he gives frameworks to tackle the often overlooked “softer” elements of successful change; the humans impacted.
The frameworks provided look at ways to involve and motivate the individuals who will be most affected by the changes being proposed. Whether it’s trying to convince your family to move cities or convincing your friends to run a 10k for charity, these are lessons that we can all apply to carry people along on any change effort.
Think about it! Most of the change that we go through in life is accompanied by some sort of stress. Moving house, having a baby, getting a qualification,building an exercise habit etc. There is some sort of stress involved in changing as it requires people leaving comfort zones. Comfort zones are called that because they are comfortable. The stress results from a challenge to that ‘feeling’ of comfort.The author explains that the job of a change friendly leader is not look for ways to handle the “resistance” but look for ways to address the concerns around the stress that accompanies change. Acknowledging that change causes stress also makes you more empathetic to the sometimes negative feelings it induces in people.
You can rent a man’s back and hands but you must earn his head and heart. Change really is a big deal. Work hard to accommodate people’s feelings – their heads,hearts and hopes and your change effort can be one of the success stories.Page 2
The author illustrates that one of the biggest challenges we have with navigating change is viewing it as a linear sequence rather than an organic process. Change almost never occurs the way it was planned.The journey is never linear.Most people fail at changing not because of a lack of resources, discipline, time etc but due to unrealistic expectations. Anyone who gardens knows that a lot of energy must be expended in creating a nurturing environment.They also know that gardens do not bloom overnight, it takes time.They also acknowledge that there are other factors that can affect the growth of their garden and take steps to plan and mitigate against these factors. The author illustrates that this is the mindset that must be employed when approaching any change effort;tending and nurturing.
Change-friendly practitioners know that their most important legacy to an organisation is not just in orchestrating a single transformation. Their most important legacy is teaching the organisation how to change and perpetually adapt and in helping its people muster the will to do so.Page 29
The author goes into a lot of detail about what great leadership is (and isn’t). Building trust was the central theme of this part of the book.You certainly cannot build trust without being honest. And honesty has to be demonstrated in a number of ways; honesty in putting the needs of others ahead of yours, honesty in communicating information clearly, honesty in welcoming differing viewpoints and most especially honesty in integrating the values you profess with the behaviours you exhibit. In my experience, nothing scuppers a change effort faster than distrust. And distrust occurs when people can clearly see that you are not ready to role model the change you seek. For example,it’s harder to convince people that exercise is great for them if they have never seen you exercising.
A person is trust-friendly when his behaviours consistently enable him to earn trust,extend trust and be trust. Effective change leaders know how to make trust first in order to make it last.Page 55
The author states that we are most effective when we talk so other people will listen and when we listen so other people will talk. It seems like such a simple concept but listening can be such a hard skill to master. I don’t mean hearing what was said but actually engaging with what the other person is saying.The author shares a piece of advice for effective interviewing that I have actually implemented. Ask a good question,listen attentively to the answer and then count silently to five before asking another question. You might think “how does this relate to me I don’t interview for a living?” Believe me,we are all interviewers in one way or the other. If you are a parent, asking your child how their day at school went is a sort of interview.I must confess that this is something I need to get better at and it is one of the parts of the book that I am actively implementing.
If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you will discover something almost magical. The other person will either expand on what he’s already said or he will go in a different direction.Either way, he is expanding his response and you get a clearer view into his head and heart.Page 104
The author states that the most effective teams are those where teammates can compliment each other without embarrassment and disagree without fear. It is often implied that being a good team player means always agreeing with each other about everything but I find that the best teams are those who have established ways to handle civil disagreements.I also really liked the author’s take on the five conditions to create an enabling team environment .They are;
1.A real team not just in name only
2. A compelling purpose that kindles the enthusiasm of the team
3. A reinforcing framework that promotes and enables rather than inhibits team achievement
4. A nurturing context and not just lip service support
5. Access individually and collectively to skillful coaching on teamwork issues
Even though the above was specifically crafted for organisational teams, I believe it can adapted in various forms to work in any team context. I use the word team here to define any group of people working together to achieve a common goal.A sports team,church volunteers,members of a family,etc. All of these examples are working together to achieve something and can adapt at least one of the above either to implement a change or achieve collective goals.
Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success- Stephen R. CoveyPage 148
Change friendly leadership was a really great,simple read. It contained a lot of really practical tips and frameworks that can be adapted and personalised to your specific change context. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in becoming more effective in leading change both for themselves and others.
*please note that the link above is an affiliate link that earns me a small commission at no extra cost to you*
Thank you so much for reading and I hope you found these lessons helpful and hope you can apply them in some form in the coming weeks and months.Have a lovely new month and quarter ahead.