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January 2010
Published by Geoff Kelly, Kelly Strategic Influence

Wisdom to lead minds:

ďThe individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might of the force of habit and must understand that practices are what create habits.
He must be quick to break those habits that can break him and hasten to adopt those practices that will become the habits that help him achieve the success he desires."

J. Paul Getty - 1892-1976, American Oil Tycoon

Why the change rulebook is being rewritten.

Modern leaders thrive or fail on their ability to successfully promote change in their organisations, across their industries and sometimes in their wider communities. And most are frustrated that their change efforts often fail, or are at best feeble shadows of the visions they once held.

Typically, most leaders are stuck on the notion that change success lies in motivating people and communicating effectively. Their problem arises in the way people are wired. The latest brain research shows that people find implementing change difficult even when they are well trained and want to adopt the change. They are wired to the old ways and naturally flip back to their old ways; their previously embedded routines and habits. Think of the trouble most people have adopting new diets and exercise regimes and this will make more sense.

Of course people can and do change. And with the correct learning and practice, people are capable of change well beyond what most believe is possible. Thatís the good news. And the more leaders come to understand the potential for profound change, the more exciting futures will they envision and build.

On the flip side, most change is much more difficult than most leaders realise. This is because all new learning and change that sticks requires changes in the brains of their followers. Mostly this is at the level of progressively modifying existing neural circuits, although researchers have also identified that we actually reroute our neural wiring in extreme change scenarios. This is often associated with activities that require intensive practice.

The point is that when leaders kick-off important change for employees or other followers, they are not just asking for change in some behaviours and routines. They also are asking for a corresponding change in peoplesí brains. And this takes time and effort that too few allow for.

Rewiring the brain takes practice and repetition, not just motivation and communication. And most of all, it takes time and understanding.

Because they understand that people are naturally drawn to the old ways of doing things, effective change leaders also provide resources and other support that makes changes easier to adopt and sustain.

Another important factor in successful change is staging it in relatively narrow steps that allow people to focus on fewer things at a time. Fewer points of focus allow people to more fully engage on crucial changes and so accelerate the process. Pushing a wide array of change through a short timeframe is a recipe for low impact of only temporary resonance.

A good comparison is to look at how elite athletes and musicians develop. Sure they have great passion and commitment, but also they approach their development through intensive development and practice sessions in relatively narrow areas.

Taken together, these narrowly focussed sessions eventually aggregate to full repertoires required for competing at Grand Slam tennis tournaments or playing great symphonies.

Change engagement and communication are still crucial tools in the leaderís change arsenal. However, what the latest neuroscience has now clearly established is that how he or she uses them needs to be fundamentally different to most common practice.

More next month...


Geoff Kelly works with leaders who are frustrated that others don't fully support their ideas and strategies. He mainly works with corporate leaders around the world, but also leaders in Government and Not for Profit. He is also a popular speaker on this and related subjects. See www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au, email [email protected] or call +613 9678 9218 for more information


© 2009-2010 Geoff Kelly All rights reserved.
You are free to use material from the Leading Minds eZine in whole or in part, as long as you include complete attribution, including live web site link. Please also notify me where the material will appear. The attribution should read: "By Geoff Kelly of Kelly Strategic Influence. Please visit Geoff's web site at www.kellystrategicinfluence.com.au for additional articles and resources on earning support for your ideas and strategies." (Make sure the link is live if placed in an eZine or in a web site.)



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