Blog written by Michelle Bomberger, Equinox Business Law Group
I’ve found so many quotes that tout the value of change in business: “By changing nothing, nothing changes” (Tony Robbins), “When in doubt, choose change” (Lily Leung), and “The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing” (Theodore Roosevelt). These messages are inspiring and force us to think of the opportunity that change presents; and often, the decision to change is easy. However, for most people the process of change and the side effects and externalities that result from it are not easy. For this reason, my favorite of the quotes is: “All great changes are preceded by chaos” (Deepak Chopra) because that’s what it feels like. But why?
In business, as in life, your decisions affect people beyond yourself and it’s often difficult to predict how your decision will be internalized by another person. We’ve all encountered situations where we made a decision that was, without a doubt, the “right” decision – and we then found ourselves second guessed or criticized for making that decision. In such a situation, we are usually baffled by why others don’t understand the obvious reasons for the decision.
The culprit is often perceived as inadequate communication of the changes. Even though we communicate the changes and the necessary information to support the decision, the communication is one sided. The decision maker is communicating what he or she thinks the team needs to know and the recipients are internalizing the information from their points of view and their experiences. So we can communicate all we want; but no matter what, a lot will be lost in translation resulting in the “obvious” decision being challenged.
Beyond communication, though, is leadership through change. Those impacted by decisions want to be involved in them. Not everyone can be involved at the detail level, but they want to feel they are considered in the decision. The fact that you know you considered them is not relevant – what is relevant is that they know they had some say in the process and they were heard. Leadership is very different from management in this way. A manager implements solutions to achieve a goal, often mandating actions by others whereas a leader brings people along with them to achieve their vision, encouraging their buy in and trust. I believe both types of people are necessary in a successful business; however, in times of change, leadership is essential at all levels in the company. Without it, logical solutions and processes will not be accepted. In the chaos of change, emotions come first and the leader has the role of harnessing those for good.