How do you lead when the rules change?

Everyone wants to perform up to expectations.  That’s why it’s so important to know the rules. Leaders must, therefore, be very clear to explain the expectations they have for their team.

Some might say that the rules they will be judged against should be detailed, exact, straightforward, and never ever change during the middle of the game. If you have been in business for any number of years, you might want to respond with, “Can I have that?”

We can’t always control the rules that govern our businesses, or our day to day lives in some cases.  Anyone who just lived through – or is living through – the impacts of the Great Recession knows that the rules can change quickly when outside forces move.

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Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Indoor Skydiving

Yes, that picture is me experiencing the feeling of free falling.

What could I possibly learn about Leading Change from Indoor Skydiving?

First let me explain Indoor Skydiving.  The entire experience takes place inside a vertical wind tunnel at wind speeds of 120 mph.  You wear the same gear as a skydiver, suit, helmet, goggles and ear plugs – not just for show, by the way, imagine what 120mph can do to a body in a wind tunnel if you change your body position too quick or too much.

Here are the Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Indoor Skydiving:

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Lessons in Leading Change I Learned From Elephants

Elephants are large animals standing up to 13 feet tall and weighing up to 15,000 pounds. It’s no wonder we associate our difficultty leading change with our inability to move an elephant.

My leadership team and I are finishing a study of the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath.  In Switch, Chip and Dan describe the process of leading change in the picture of an elephant and its rider.

In short, the rider represents rational and logical thought and the elephant represents our emotional needs.  Leaders must address both sides by addressing the head of the rider by explaining the need for change while capturing the heart of the elephant so it desires the change.

My family and I had the opportunity to visit a family-run elephant preserve.   We observed the elephants interacting, exercising, performing and even painting a picture.  The preserve owners and trainers taught us the about the elephants and their individual personality and behavior. Read More…

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