Less Courage more Preparation
Photo by Caro Wallis
Robert Lindquist observed, “Courage is the power to let go of the familiar.”
The real need for courage emerges when leaders say the present is no longer acceptable, our current world is changing and we’re changing with it. It takes even more courage to say we’re changing before the world changes.
I’ve been a change agent a few times. It feels like riding a roller-coaster. Moments of calm are followed by moments of terror. You think it’s over but it isn’t. Frankly, change isn’t for the faint of heart.
Disruption creates uncertainty and stress both in you and your constituents.
Dr. Robert Anthony said, “Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.” However, feeling the need for courage may reflect lack of preparation.
If you’re always going around like a lion, perhaps you need more preparation. Winston Churchill wisely said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
The need for courage dramatically declines when leaders prepare people for change.
- Explain what is and what isn’t changing. Stabilize an unstable environment by focusing on values. Yes, methods may change but it’s rare that values change.
- Listen to fears and address fears. People want to see how they fit into the new future. Some are afraid they won’t succeed. As soon as possible, explain new roles and responsibilities.
- Provide resources. For example, provide training before, during, and after organizational change.
- Be transparent with your own concerns and how you are dealing with them. Don’t just say, “I’m concerned.” Say, “I’m dealing with my concerns by getting support from others that have gone through similar transitions.”
The more you prepare the less courage you’ll need.
How can leaders prepare themselves and others for change?
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This is just what I needed to remind me what I need to do. I sit on the city council of our small little town and we have an issue with a new contract at our airport. One of the other council members is headstrong and loud about his opinion and does not have a lot to back it up. I too have an opinion on the way it needs to go but need to make sure that others in the community are with me on it. I plan on getting others input on the issue and then doing a little walk around town so that we can have a level head in the matter and community support to back it up.
As always enjoy the blog and also enjoy putting it to use.
Garrison, that sounds like a good plan. It sounds like you may be aware of this already, but sometimes it takes a couple of repetitions (and bearing with negative responses) before some people have adequately thought through a change that will ultimately be good. Maybe that’s the case with your community members and the headstrong member is a distraction to reason. Good luck.
Louder doesn’t necessarily mean truer, however, short term can bully a position through in the absence of verifying data.
That verifying data is available as you ‘walk around’ the net. Takes time, worth the effort Garrison.
I can tell you of a similar instance in Oregon recently that blew up in the faces of public leaders. The damage done in mistrust deepened extends far beyond the incident itself.
I guess you have a point in that sometimes we are so busy being courageous, we do not stop to think. I mean after all, we celebrate heroes for courageous acts more than we celebrate people for thinking things through and making the delivery look simple. It now makes me wonder about the question I asked on yesterday’s post. Is Starbucks being overconfident and not listening, or have they thought their new branding through and now going with their courage?
Hey Thabo, read your post yesterday and question about Starbucks…saw an excellent show on History channel (?) on the history of coffee. Starbucks established itself because of lapses (overconfidence or arrogance?) of the former big 5 coffee distributors in US. Is Starbucks repeating their history? Not sure we can answer that yet, worth watching.
It will be interesting to see indeed Doc.
It’s interesting that this is today’s topic, because I just sent my spouse an email with this quote: Leap, and the net will appear. –Julie Cameron, referencing our frequent discussions recently about our professional lives. I wonder how “leap and the net will appear” converges with a philosphy of “The more you prepare the less courage you’ll need.” Maybe the two are diametically opposed ….
Around the New Year, I heard a CNN interview with extreme kayaker Taylor Brandt (extreme as in descended a 190 foot waterfall extreme). I recall him saying “the hard part is deciding; once you have decided to execute, you execute.” Maybe there’s a bit of a takeaway in that for the dynamics of change — you can either sit there and fret about it, whine about it, and ask why things have to change — or you can prepare — maybe even to the point of putting a net below the precipice from which you plan to leap!
I’m not one who tries to find the middle. However, I think too much preparations paralyzes. I actually like the quote .. “Leap and the net will appear.”
Usually, I’m on the “get off your butt and get going” team. However, this morning, perhaps my timid self won the day. 🙂
Thank you for adding value, and best to you in all your job searches.
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read her bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
I need someone I work with to find some courage and get off his butt.
it’s hard to motivate the “smartest person in the world” (or so he thinks)
Good morning Dan. WOW what a timely post for my profession. How do leaders prepare themselves and others for change? I believe one way is to go back to basics and not lose focus of our VMV statements. We are smack in the middle of the greatest change within Healthcare that we have witnessed in the past 60 years. Change is always uncomfortable and when it is not then is it truly a change or just some varnish on the veneer.
In the last 24 months and in the foreseeable future everyone involved in Healthcare has and will have to adapt to the new paradigm. Those involved for the right reasons will flourish and those who missed their calling will flounder and both of these are very good things for our society and economy overall. Communication at all levels is imperative to explain the change lessen the fear and motivate the necessary courage. I read somewhere that “Fear” is a reaction and “Courage” is a decision, I believe it was Joe Tye. This is so true. There is such an animal as healthy fear which will prompt us to investigate our complacency and seek courage to transform. There can never be enough communication and holding hands frequently until folks can tread the deep part of the pool is the constant challenge for leadership. Leadership transparency, accountability, and continuous support will be a prerequisite for a successful transformation. As far as Leader preparation is concerned, staying abreast of the dynamics of the environment coupled with “full attention” and a listening mode behavior will rally the troops and allow for a less painful and more engaging metamorphosis. Let’s see what the oracle from DC has in store for us. Cheers and thanks for the post. Regards, Al
I thought of you when I wrote this post. I know the medical world faces huge challenges and major uncertainty.
Thanks for sharing your insights.
Best to you,
Al is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. Read his bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/al-diaz
What an amazing time to be alive, eh Al!
Our little corner(?) of this marble is rife with opportunities.
Welcome to Preparations Anonymous….
step one: Believe
step two: Prepare
step three: Do
step four: Evaluate step 3
step five: Adapt
step six: Repeat steps 1-5
Hey Doc, my Board meets in two weeks and with appropriate props as you say I plan to share your suggested algorithm which highly resonates with me and even the least inclined of my physicians can understand! 🙂 BTW is there a local chapter for PA……:) we have plenty of potential members starting with ME….I will share with you what I consider a “tipping point” for our group. Our Finance Committee with representation from both specialists and Primary Care after 12 months reached consensus on a change to our IDP(Income Distribution Plan) which will go to our Board for approval. This is the first time at least since I have been here that the physicians were more concerned with the good of the “whole” vs. individual needs. It is encouraging to me because if ever we needed Physician Alignment and Team Dynamics now is the moment. Dealing with Bundled Payments, Gain Sharing etc just became a slightly less ominous proposition. To follow your flow chart we are clearly at stage three: DO. Most already believe and are making preparations but execution will determine whether we proceed to steps five and six and hopefully we will. Thanks for the input Doc, as usual concise, brief, and full of power. 🙂 AD
I think leaders can prepare themselves and others for change by creating awareness, providing support (moral, psychological, social ), owning up responsibility, brining affection and being self as a person of integrity.
Change brings resistance and outcome is optimistic. The major obstacle in bringing change is to face resistance. And resistance can be overcome by creating climate of psychological safety and trust. Less the fear more the trust and more trust is helpful in bringing change.
I agree that more preparation is required to be more courageious. similarly change needs courage to fight with fear. Courage is the key to change the dream into reality. Bigger the dream, bigger the courage and outcome is more than expectation.
I know that I personally have done the whole “Courageous” thing and charged the machine gun nest, just to get mowed down. I found out, when it happened that if I would have slowed down and looked at all of the approaches, I would have probably been more successful in my charge.
I think to initiate change, one of the main things leaders can do is be transparent and communicate, a lot. I believe that communication is the #1 reason most change fails. Due to many of the reasons you already mentioned. Sometimes in our pride as leaders, we want to say, “Change because I believe it’s the right thing to do” not a great game plan in most cases. We have to reassure our people of why the change is necessary and the pros and cons of doing it and not doing it. Let them see clearly as to why change is needed. Thanks for your time and consistently great content.
Dan – fascinating post! Next time I feel the adrenaline pumping and my “risk junkie” starts kicking in, I will remember this and challenge myself to review my level of readiness before plunging ahead. Thanks!
Reading the posts, reminded me of tiling my bathroom floor again. Pull up the carpet (yes, previous owner had carpet in bathroom), floor decayed, replace parts of floor, floor not aligned, sand and align the floor…oops, need waterproof flooring by shower, replace that…level it all again. Need to remove the toilet, whoops, where is that shut off valve…dry everything out.
Okay, 3 days later ready to tile…took a couple of hours. Done, looks great. (although, I can easily show you the flaws in my work…don’t ask.)
Sure there was ‘courage’ to tackle it myself the first time (will offer this opportunity to others next time) and I learned so much about preparation. Can say I have walked in those shoes. Prep work is key.
Doc my house is 60 years old and now that I know you are cross trained if you ever think about doing some moonlighting please let me know. Someday I will tell you the story of my attempt at installing an ice-maker, not a pretty sight and all of the preparation in the world could not have saved me. Cheers! 🙂 Al
I can see it Al…the overconfidence of the ice-maker install, what could be so difficult about that…wait…water, electricity, motors, cold, maybe even soldering…eep! I would benefit from sitting at the feet of masters when such multi-systems are involved!
This is a great post. As a career transition coach who helps her clients better plan and prepare for a career transition, I think your advice is very good. The more prepared you are, the less courage you need. I am not one for ignoring fears. I think fears point to what may be lacking in terms of preparation. That being said, you cannot prepare for everything and at some point you need to exercise those courage muscles and make the leap of faith.
Nicely said Monick. There is a tension between preparation and taking a leap.
This is wonderful something i needed to hear to get my day start, great job
really like this:
“Listen to fears and address fears. People want to see how they fit into the new future. Some are afraid they won’t succeed. As soon as possible, explain new roles and responsibilities.”
Preparation… absolutely. It takes discipline. It is like reviewing game film after a basketball or football game. It helps prepare the players and coaches for the next game. I just wrote a post about this and how we should follow a similar practice in our game of life. Thanks!
Spot on Dan. I recently was responsible for the reorganization of the money making arm of an entire organization. The change, which occured in just under 45 days and I was given two weeks to plan for, affected 15 people. I have to say those two weeks were spent planning, communicating, listening, communicating, organizing, communicating and did I mention communicating? Each of your four points share a common theme~communication~ which is an essential skill for any change agent.
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