The other day, one of my mid-level managers asked me, “How do I make change happen in my company when I am not the ultimate leader of my company or even division?”
First off, I was impressed he felt safe enough to say that to me, considering that I am what he called “the ultimate leader” of his company. While I think of myself as head of a team, if you boil it down, I am the one he identified as being able to make changes.
Before fully answering him, I went back and listened again to one of my all-time favorite sessions of ExecuNet Master Class – Truly Human Leadership, led by Bob Chapman. One of the leaders I look up to and follow, Chapman is Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a capital equipment, and engineering consulting firm with more than 8,000 team members worldwide. In the groundbreaking Master Class, Chapman brings his vision of a world where work environments are caring, and people feel a sense of fulfillment for their contributions and the company is better for it.
I remembered that Bob touched on this topic in the Class but could not recall exactly what he had to say, so I wanted to re-listen to the program before advising my employee.
The essence of what Bob said on this is to care. All you really need is to care. You don’t need anyone’s approval to care. See the people whose lives you touch as someone’s precious child, whose lives you have a chance to touch. “Make sure you are a light in their lives,” he advised.
Bob suggested gathering your team together to discuss if this makes sense to them. If each of you makes sure you are a good story in each other’s lives, and in the lives of those you interact with, you will profoundly change your corner of the world… and it will spread. Yes, it takes courage to do this, and you can start with individuals if you feel that’s more realistic, but no matter how it starts, the goal is to get the concept moving, to live it, and to get buy-in.
You aren’t trying to change people… simply trying to help people who believe as you do. It’s about fundamentals of how we treat each other. This is leadership. It’s like parenting: stewardship of the lives entrusted to you. True leadership is more than making good numbers. It is about connections and people working together toward common purpose.
You can do this even if you aren’t the final decision-maker.
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