Change is at the Heart of How People Live, Work, and Achieve

May 8, 2023

An excerpt from Change: How to Turn Uncertainty Into Opportunity

Choosing People Over Process: The Key to Effective Change Leadership

When Mick Jagger opened the door, Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer, punched him in the face so hard he fell flat on the table behind him. The usually mild-mannered Watts then calmly turned around and walked back to his hotel room.     

Why such an act of aggression? Jagger may have been one of the greatest rock and roll front men of all time, but he miscalculated the emotions of change. He hadn’t learned (or had forgotten) that unwanted and unexpected change can tap into our most primal fight-or-flight instincts. Even a calm, unflappable English drummer could lash out—and did—when the ego-driven Jagger announced he’d negotiated a huge deal for himself with a slew of solo albums to follow. That act of betrayal, followed by a late-night harassing phone call from Jagger, was more change than Charlie Watts could take. A knock at the door was followed by a right hook, and Jagger fell into a platter of smoked salmon and nearly out of the hotel window.

Eventually, the Rolling Stones patched things up and continued their streak of bestselling hits. While we’re not advocating Charlie Watts’s choice in handling the situation, we recognise it would be a mistake to underestimate how humans are wired to react when faced with the threat of change. We’ve written this book to provide leaders with the mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets to lead their teams from simply reacting to change, to opting in and taking ownership of it. In the chapters to come, we’ll present a framework for how change unfolds as a predictable process and how leaders can increase their team’s capacity to both implement and leverage the benefits of change. 

After all, FranklinCovey’s mission of enabling greatness in people and organisations everywhere is essentially a mission about change. Whether we’re developing exceptional leaders, instilling the habits of effectiveness, building an inclusive and high-trust culture, or providing a common execution framework tied to “wildly” important goals, change is at the heart of how people live, work, and achieve individual and collective “great purposes.”

As the four authors, we’re unabashed about our passion for and expertise in helping clients successfully navigate change. It begins with a recognition that the most effective change leaders choose to invest their time in their people over following a process. Leaders who begin with this mindset can more easily move beyond rote change management practices to building increased change capabilities in those they lead.

Over the past four decades, we’ve vetted our framework by working in the trenches with executives, mid-level leaders, and front-line employees to support various forms of change across numerous industries. The topic of change has helped shape the focus of our professional lives, and we’ve gathered more than a few stories along the way.

We’ve each come to change through a different lens: Curtis as a change expert with over two decades of working both at the highest levels and in the trenches; Marché as a professional development consultant who has coached hundreds of leaders through personal and professional change; Andy as a leadership and effectiveness expert and an accomplished change practitioner who provides consulting services to executives and organisations; and Christi as a Ph.D. in human resources development who has served as the lead change agent for an immensely complex healthcare change initiative, among other change-related projects

We’ve experienced change from many perspectives, across diverse organisations, and from all parts of the globe, and our collective experience has validated two premises we’ll explore further in this book.                    

Change follows a pattern, and leaders can benefit greatly from a framework we call the Change Model.             

Because change is always a human endeavour, the most effective change leaders prioritise the needs of their people over strict adherence to a process. The promise of this book is that it will teach you, as a leader, how to turn the uncertainty of change into opportunity (and build your team’s capacity to move through current and future changes more effectively). 

That may feel like a daunting challenge, especially if you’re in the middle of a change disruption. But take heart. The perfect antidote to change’s complexity is a model that is clear and simple to understand. 

Having a great idea puts you at the starting line. The real work of leadership is what you do next. 

A simple but profound business story. Change: How to Turn Uncertainty Into Opportunity begins with a business parable that invites leaders to reflect on their own change journey and discover how their “crew” falls into a set of predicable patterns and reactions. Whatever the size or scope of the change you’re facing, by following the story’s Change Model you can confidently lead and chart a way forward knowing what will come next. 

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