by Mark Juleen
Here’s a little secret: I have a tough time viewing myself as a leader. As I thought about the topic of leadership and how it relates to what I do in my role, I struggled with the idea. So, I did what any nerdy, social media, tech guy does and turned to the Internet. My network of peers and Google came to the rescue. After doing my homework, I discovered that most of what I do in my role is act as a change agent. I suppose I never really looked at that as a leadership type of role. However, that’s my mission. I lead change. It’s something I do naturally, but I’m definitely not perfect at it. I feel it’s challenging to rally different personalities to accept change, but I’d like to share with you how I think about leading change and the challenges that come along with it.
Failure – Of everything I will suggest in this piece, this is the most important point. Sure, you have likely read it before, but there is no room for fear of failure if you want to be a change agent. If you want change you need to be edgy, you need to take risks, and you need to pick yourself back up when you fail. Your risks can be calculated, but you have to execute without holding back. This point is also the most challenging mentally to overcome because many fear that failure could lead to criticism from others or even loss. No one wants to lose credibility or even their job, but if you want to lead change you have to realize that your first attempt is not your last. Be ready to fail, but also be ready to move on and learn from that failure. Change doesn’t necessarily happen on the first try.
Flexibility – As I mentioned, it can be challenging to rally different personalities. At J.C. Hart we study the DISC system (Dominant, Inspiring, Supportive, and Cautious) and use our understanding of different personality profiles to help us coach and lead our teams. For example, I am a high I and high D and it is more challenging for me to relate to high S or high C profile types. However, what I have found in understanding DISC is that I can structure change around the individuals I am working with. One plan or one strategy for change won’t work for everyone, and if you tailor your coaching to fit the team or individual you’ll be more successful getting the buy-in you need for change.
Patience – Over the years this is one area that I have worked on, and I would give Mr. Hart credit for helping instill this quality in me. Just as you need to be flexible when pushing for change, you also must be patient. It could be that your first attempt was a failure, or that opponents of your change are fighting you and delaying your progress. Either way, if you believe your plan or strategy is one worth fighting for then you will need to endure and sometimes wait for the right timing or alternative solution to present itself. The challenge with patience is also knowing when to quit and move on, and pride is the biggest thing you have to be willing to set aside when you recognize it is time to move on.
Think Big – Creating change isn’t about trying new things and seeing if they stick. Mapping out phase two, three, and beyond helps you create real change. It’s frustrating for me to go to industry conferences and seminars and listen to speakers share one-time ideas and watch the audience get excited about them. The new banner, special, listing website, or resident event idea doesn’t represent change. Those efforts can sometimes grab attention, but they must be part of something bigger. Knowing what your end goal is and how those ideas are a part of the end goal is really the change you are looking for. I’ve said this a number of times about social media and marketing in general, “There’s no silver bullet.” If you want to change your marketing it’s much bigger than a new logo, flyer, or YouTube video. It’s not change until the idea feels overwhelming. Then you know you’ve got something.
Leading change isn’t for everyone, and as I’ve suggested here, being a change agent has its challenges. Personally, I enjoy it. I like to challenge the status quo as I believe there is always a better way to do anything. If you’re in a leadership role, there are often times when you need to wear your change agent hat, like it or not. I hope when that time comes you go all in, understand your audience, don’t get frustrated with set-backs, and go BIG.