Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

The Cruelest April Fool’s Joke Ever

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blogIdeasI would like to explain to my regular subscribers why I haven’t posted on my blog since the beginning of April. I do apologize.

I had been suffering what I supposed was a cold since late January. It all came to a head over Easter weekend, and I was admitted into the hospital on April 1, when I was diagnosed with cancer.

This came as a surprise to me since cancer does not run in my family and there is no history as far as I can tell on either side of my family. Nonetheless, I have cancer, a fact I can accept and live with, as well as my mortality.

Several days later, I was informed it was stage four blastoid mantel cell lymphoma, a particularly nasty and aggressive strain, with a six month prognosis without immediate treatment. I was placed back in the hospital to receive chemotherapy.

I always thought chemo was administered for several hours at a time. I was wrong. I receive mine for 5 days at a time, with about two weeks to recover, if that’s the word, before I start my next round. In total I must complete eight rounds and then complete a bone marrow treatment, which should be complete by the end of this year.

The first two rounds were a barrel of laughs, with the third beginning this week, including losing my hair and a ton of weight, which I could afford to lose.

Needless to say this has knocked me off my feet for a while and I am finally getting to the point to post again and hopefully shortly get back on schedule. It may start several times a week and finally get back to my daily schedule, but I assure you, I haven’t gone away, nor forgotten my many followers.

For those of you God moves and wish to help, my wife established a medical fund at GiveForward.com. Unfortunately, I was priced out of the insurance market and do not have medical insurance. I am working with the thee hospitals involved to have my medical costs covered, but I don’t know how far they plan to help.

The chemo drugs are very expensive, with one bag costing $53,000 per round. So if God moves your heart, it is deeply appreciated. Otherwise prayers are always freely accepted.

I look forward to connecting again in the near future.

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

May 16, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Personal Techniques to Handle and Adapt to Change

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The Greek word metamórphosis means, “changed or transformed.” When individuals accept that change is a natural part of their organizational environment, they cease resisting it and are thus transformed. They henceforth evolve with the ongoing changes that take place in the organization.

Most people fear change. In the workplace, leaders’ fears are fed by a feeling that if they attempt to initiate change, they will lose their job because their superiors will not support their efforts. Leaders also resist change due to the time constraints associated with their existing responsibilities. If time is taken from these, they fear their core business will fail, resulting in everyone being out of a job. Additionally, change is an unknown. Since leaders might fear what the unknown will bring to their organization, they attempt to ignore it, hoping it just goes away.

Leaders must comprehend that what they fear is the organization-threatening choices that companies are faced with after ignoring the earlier and obvious need for change. At such a point, the organization has no other option but to make a decision or perish.

Leaders must learn to accept that change is here to stay and something that they must deal with in small and incremental steps that allow the organization to evolve. Taking the proper far-sighted approach ensures that a company will not have to face the organization-threatening changes that everyone fears.

Before leaders can deal with organizational change they must first accept change personally and professionally. If they can hone personal techniques to handle and adapt to change, then they can adjust these techniques to the workplace and their leadership style. These methods are discussed below:


Individuals must learn to accept change. Whether they realize it or not, most people currently in the workplace grew up in a dynamic environment characterized by change. Since the 1960s, society has been subject to drastic change stemming from events such as the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. All of these pivotal events spurred waves of change that have impacted everyone’s lives to this day.

Since the 1980s, society has seen monumental advances in technology that have changed everyone’s lives as well. The introduction of the personal computer, fax machines, cell phones, email, VCRs, the Internet, mobile computing devices and a host of other technological devices have literally changed the face of business and personal lives.

Whether or not one would admit it, life has changed, and most changes have been quietly accepted and integrated into many people’s lives. And many would agree that it has made their lives easier and better. So if people fear change, then they would be well served to go back over their lives to see how they have handled and adapted to change. Most would probably agree that it has been a slow, incremental process that they have hardly noticed, except in hindsight.

Observe Change

Every time individuals buy a new car, a new electronic device such as a computer or DVD player, or a new consumer product such as self-rising pizza crust, they are accepting change. Since these changes are small, they are not the life-threatening events everyone fears; yet, they are still changes. Obviously, individuals can resist or deny change by choosing not to purchase these products, but most feel they have no other option, and subsequently think nothing of it.

As leaders learn to handle change in the workplace, they should begin by observing the countless changes made in their personal lives. They should note the impact these have made and how they felt about the results. These reflections should help leaders learn how to adapt in a constantly changing workplace environment.

Learn Personal Flexibility

Inflexible individuals have the most difficulty adapting to change. These are often older people who grew up in a more stable pre-1960s environment. They liked the way things were and resisted even the smallest changes. However, this description does not characterize everyone who grew up during this period. Many, in fact, have found the changes in society and technology liberating, making their lives easier and more productive.

It is not age so much as mindset that is important. Leaders must learn to become personally flexible. Anyone can become more flexible by learning to change some of the minor details in their lives, such as eating at a new restaurant, rearranging the furniture in their homes and offices, changing a hair style or taking a vacation somewhere new or unknown.

When individuals learn to be personally flexible and adaptable, they can easily do the same in the workplace. It starts with taking small, incremental steps and then observing the effects and consequences.

Look for Small Opportunities

Life outside the workplace provides individuals with many opportunities to change and improve their lives. Individuals should become more aware of the countless opportunities for change. Most people can make these changes without a second thought. As a personal lesson in accepting change, leaders should look for small opportunities they can seize to change their lives. They should learn to evaluate their personal decisions and analyze the impact these small changes have on their lives.


Individuals should experiment with various methods of change. When they experiment, observe and learn from the results in their personal lives, it should be easy to translate these lessons to the workplace.

It is notable that most people are more conservative about changes in their personal lives than at work because they have to pay for the changes out of their own pocket. At work, on the other hand, they are spending the company’s money. This is not to say they have lost their thrift altogether, but it makes a difference that the monetary costs associated with change are not their direct burden.

Excerpt: The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD


Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

You Keep Innovating if You Want to Keep Leading

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communications in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Change is Not a Destination But a Process

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The facilitation of change is not the responsibility of any single individual, but is guided and directed by leadership on many different levels. Because change is dynamic, leadership must be equally so to keep pace with the opportunities and challenges it brings.

Leaders must understand change is not a destination but a process. The global economy does not allow leaders the luxury of resting on their laurels. Rather, it gives them the impetus to change and adapt on a frequent and regular basis. A failure to adapt opens the door to the forces of change overwhelming an organization.

A “management mentality” in the face of change produces a specific outcome, which is essentially to ask, “The organization is changing—now what?”

Leaders on the other hand become the real and active facilitators of change. They understand the forces behind it and use its dynamics as a means to effectively and repeatedly transform their organization. Rather than fear the concept of change, leaders welcome the opportunities it affords them.

Facilitating change within any organization requires proactive participation from all of its leaders. In the dynamic atmosphere of change, leaders must be ever-present and visible. There are a number of proven leadership techniques one can employ to successfully facilitate change within their organization, including:

Promoting Their Vision Daily

The importance of the leader’s personal vision is a guiding and fundamental leadership principle. It is not sufficient for leaders to simply state their vision; they must actively promote and talk about it at every opportunity. It is necessary for leaders to continually remind employees of their direction as they guide them step-by-step through the processes, transitions, problems and successes en route to attaining their vision.

As changes occur within an organization, leaders must take advantage of every opportunity to spotlight events and people in order to showcase individual and group initiatives demonstrating progress toward the defined vision.

Leading by Personal Example

One of the most valuable resources available to a leader is time. Time is at a premium, and leaders must schedule carefully to achieve what is personally important to them. When employees see that their leaders are organized around the strategic priorities established to facilitate change, it communicates that they are in earnest about their personal initiatives.

As a general practice, leaders need to adjust their personal calendars to reflect the strategic priorities of facilitating change. This communicates that the leader is leading with action to back up their words, as they are focusing their time specifically upon the point of change.

Practicing Visible Leadership

Leaders cannot lead from behind a desk or office door. They must be present at the point of change to train, coach, cajole and comfort.

Leaders can only observe and learn when they are in the midst of their employees during the implementation of change. This is not a one-time event, but an ongoing exercise. This is why the efficient scheduling of time is critical if leaders want to be actively involved in the direct facilitation of change transformations.

Being a Compulsive Listener

Leaders have one primary responsibility: to go out and listen to their employees. It should not be done in a passive style of listening, but one where leaders actively engage their employees, learn from their frustrations, take action to clean up a particular stressful or unproductive situation, and enthusiastically encourage each one of them. The process of facilitating change requires that leaders make it an ongoing habit to actively listen and make necessary changes based upon what they specifically learn and observe.

Honoring Your Frontline Staff

Leaders understand that the point of change happens in the front lines of their organization. While it impacts the entire organization, the front lines are the apex of change. This is where its real impact is felt—and where leaders must directly focus their time, efforts and attention.

In this regard, leaders should be honoring their frontline employees. They accomplish this by celebrating all major and minor successes and learning from failures as they test new ideas and concepts.


When leaders delegate they are not only freeing up valuable time, they are empowering and training others to perform key tasks. Proper delegation allows leaders to be more responsive to the needs of their organization because they can get out from under tasks demanding their time and hindering their ability to lead. The key to successful delegation is the maintenance of high standards for those the leader designates to perform the delegated work.

Managing Horizontally

When leaders manage horizontally, they are opening up communications and responsiveness at the front lines of their organization, and across multiple functions. This minimizes the delays of bureaucratic up and down communications and replaces it with faster frontline communications across functional boundaries. This allows leaders to test, try, modify, and act on ideas quickly, and facilitates change more rapidly at its apex and focal point.

Questioning Daily Progress

It is easy for leaders to mask a number of functions, items and agendas under the label of change. An effective leader constantly questions his or her progress on a daily basis and asks, “What exactly have I changed?”

Rather than measuring progress over time, leaders understand that facilitating change involves countless decisions and minor changes that produce organizational modifications, alterations or elimination of unproductive practices across many planes and avenues. They are more pragmatic about looking at specific daily changes to ensure that transformations are taking place throughout their organization.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

While the nature of change brings about its own sense of pressure, leaders must continually reinforce their personal sense of urgency to overcome all of the potentially paralyzing fears employees may experience due to change and its compelling nature. Every action and activity a leader undertakes must also be viewed as an unequivocal call for urgency in the pursuit of constant testing and improvement in subsequent change transformations throughout the organization.

Excerpt: Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD


Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Managers as Facilitators of Change

7 Ways to Use Change to Increase Performance

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Defending Against Personal Burnout and Frustration

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Many leaders will associate the implementation of change in their organization with elevated levels of stress, frustration and anxiety. These pressures, combined with a typical staff reduction that often requires leaders to accomplish more with less, can lead to personal burnout.

Change management, as incorporated in many organizational plans and strategies, often leads to personal burnout, as rather than take small, incremental steps that allow organizations to evolve. Many will stagnate and resist change until the company is severely threatened and must make huge, destabilizing adjustments to survive.

It is important for leaders to understand that large, overwhelming changes will typically shake up the entire organization as wholesale modifications occur in the way business is conducted. The process is time intensive and traumatic for everyone involved. People require time to recuperate after the event is over; wholesale changes often result in personal burnout.

Undoubtedly, quick and/or frequent change can lead to burnout. However, even in the face of ongoing change, leaders can use the strategies outlined in this section to defend against burnout and frustration.

Part of the Job

Effective leaders accept that change is a normal function associated with their jobs. In this way, change is no longer perceived as an event that threatens the organization, but simply a normal function of everyday business activity.

Leaders who embrace change plan small, incremental adjustments that help their organization slowly evolve and adapt. As a result, the company will eventually see an increase in productivity and efficiency. All it takes is a change in the leader’s perception to reduce the stress and pressures that he or she once associated with organizational change.

Anticipate Rather Than Resist

When people oppose change in their organization, they end up focusing their energy on resistance rather than acceptance. This focus saps the energy required to maintain productivity and effectiveness, which ultimately leads to burnout.

On the other hand, leaders who accept and anticipate change learn to harness its momentum to their benefit and use that energy to enact change throughout the organization, producing positive outcomes and results.


When organizations implement wholesale changes out of necessity, it can be overwhelming. Many of these changes include layoffs, which increase the intensity of the situation and overburden the leader. In turn, stress and anxiety levels go up, resulting in personal burnout.

However, when leaders plan for ongoing change, adjustments are made in small, incremental steps that allow the organization to transform itself on its own terms. Once done, wholesale organizational change is eliminated, as is the stress and intensity of change.


The incorporation of small, incremental changes into daily activities allows the organization to grow and evolve while simultaneously increasing productivity, effectiveness and efficiency. The incremental nature of change allows leaders to build it seamlessly into the organizational culture.

When the organization accepts change as a daily occurrence, leaders don’t really feel pressured nor do they experience high levels of personal stress and anxiety. This greatly reduces personal burnout.


Leaders that learn to accept and incorporate change into their daily responsibilities also learn the value of experimenting with new ideas and concepts. They discover that small changes can be tested with minimal impact and that lessons can be learned from all successes and failures. These lessons are ultimately incorporated into adaptations made by the organization.

Experimentation also helps leaders reduce risks associated with change. And less risk equals less stress, frustration and anxiety—all of which are associated with burnout.


Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Dealing with the Challenges of Change

Managers as the Facilitators of Change

Excerpt: Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

The Only Certainty for Leaders is That Change Will Occur

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It is difficult to predict leaders’ responses to change, as they must continually be on guard for unpredictable occurrences and forces, and in some cases immediately respond to a series of unknown and unanticipated events and circumstances. The only certainty is that change will occur, and leaders must be at the forefront of the process regardless of circumstances and apprehensions.

Change undoubtedly poses a challenge to every leader. This is because it can be anticipated only to the degree that it is predictable. Long-term changes and trends can be generally anticipated, but these changes are often complicated by numerous factors and elements continually altering and transforming themselves at varying rates of speed.

The concept of change also demands that leaders embrace stability and instability within the organization as it transforms itself. Several strategies that leaders need to employ during periods of change include:

Being Visible

The very nature of leadership demands that leaders be actively involved in their organizational unit. Leadership does not emanate from behind a desk or within an office. Leaders must be active and visible in the front lines of their business. Only when leaders are out and about among their employees can they see and feel the pace of progress, and witness firsthand the problems their employees are encountering.


Paces of change and organizational transformations demand that countless ideas be constantly generated and experimented with at all levels. Undoubtedly, some ideas will fail and some will succeed. The only way leaders can sort out the winners from the losers is by constantly applying new ideas and concepts on the line to test for feasibility and adaptability to their organization.


As leaders become increasingly visible, it is important that they simultaneously begin to develop listening forums where everyone within their organizational unit is sharing new ideas, celebrating minor successes and learning from small failures. This increases the synergy between employees, builds and solidifies team bonds, and enhances overall organizational cohesiveness.

Appreciating Failure

As aforementioned, an organization’s response to change as it transforms itself implies countless new ideas and concepts are being experimented with on a regular basis. Leaders know that constant experimentation means that they must test concepts, ideas and strategies rapidly—fail or succeed fast—and adjust quickly.

Active leaders must immediately discard bad ideas and learn from their failures. However, no idea can be deemed good or bad unless it has been adequately tested. The key is to learn from the failures and quickly move on to the next idea, building knowledge and expertise from a continual string of ineffective results, failures and shortcomings.

Taking Action

Leaders in the fast pace of change must be proactive rather than reactive. They cannot let the organizational bureaucracy interfere with the progress of their organizational unit. At times they must actively work against this bureaucracy when it regulates or inhibits the testing and experimentation of new ideas and concepts.

Effective leaders do not only involve their frontline employees in concept, idea and method experimentation, they encourage the participation of multi-functional teams as well, and work to get them fully involved in the process.

Learning from Customers

Leaders have learned that the external influence of the customer is a stabilizing factor in the midst of change. Successful leaders interact with their customers, and encourage employees at all levels to do the same. This can be accomplished through scheduled customer visits to the organization for discussions, observations and feedback, and by sending representatives out to the customer’s business. Once there, their job is to objectively observe exactly how specific products and services are being used and applied. They also interpret what problems occur and why, as well as each one’s impact on various time factors.

This allows leaders to cross-pollinate ideas and concepts throughout the organization so that all involved have mutual goals and objectives, increasing the overall quality of the product and its value to the customer.

Additionally, employee exposure to their customers makes daily tasks and assignments more tangible. Employees are able to see how the product they produce is used. This increases empowerment and overall responsibility toward the customer.

Making It Fun

The concept of change and accompanying process of organizational transformation are stressful. Most leaders have learned that they can ease stress by making certain elements of the process “fun.” This is not to say that leaders create a jovial and joking atmosphere, but that there is pleasure and enjoyment in accomplishing something together as a team and sharing interesting failures and mistakes in a non-critical atmosphere. It means keeping things light, celebrating the little successes, and using them to build on others to the accomplishment of mutual goals and objectives.

Change will throw many curves at an organization. It takes large doses of flexibility and participation to adapt to these trials. It also helps if leaders and employees lighten up at times where stress is at its highest, which helps to reduce the urge to take things far too seriously.


Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

Barriers to Integrating Change

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Managers as Facilitators of Change

Excerpt: Facilitating Change – Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

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The process of organizational change is complex. A number of associated factors have the ability to impact the organization’s overall ability to successfully evolve. Improper development, management and monitoring can result in the change process spinning out of control and creating chaos. In the center of this storm, it is the leader who must then wrestle control of events and restore order.

As individuals are making the shift from a management to leadership style, the entire workplace is being buffeted by change. The leader is no longer controlling the employee’s actions, but guiding and directing them through involvement and empowerment. Properly executed, this should be a smooth transition. However, ill-conceived plans implemented by poorly prepared leaders and employees can turn the entire process into chaos.

Most organizational changes do not transpire quickly. Typically, organizations and leaders both evolve together as they transition from one style of management to the other. Leaders grow through the persistent application of leadership ideas and concepts and development of their skills. The process is without an ending point, and continually moves forward over time.

Leaders who find themselves in the midst of a process that has swirled out of control must not be swept away by the tide of events and circumstances. If they are, they will give up the ability to remain detached and view what is happening objectively.

This can be challenging because they must regain control while dealing with the daily demands and pressures of the job. Because of this they must understand that they are staring down a complex and often daunting task. For the leader in these circumstances, the first step is to retain or regain emotional control and then proceed dispassionately.

Identify Causes

It is simplistic to think a single cause of a complex problem can be identified. Most problems are caused by ever-widening and overlapping circles of circumstances and events. What appears to be an obvious and clear-cut cause is often only symptomatic of a much deeper problem. When events appear chaotic, the problem can lie in more than one area and each has to be addressed in turn.

Leader’s Role

While real introspection is often painful, a leader has to identify any possible personal contributions to the problem. Chaotic events often occur for reasons directly stemming from the leader.

In certain instances the leadership role was thrust upon an individual lacking the aptitude and confidence to fulfill it. Once in the position, they fail to lead and are unable to manage due to the organizational change, and consequently leave a vacuum that is filled by disorder.

In other instances, the leader may be new and inexperienced and is attempting to accomplish overly ambitious goals and objectives. Rather than evolve, they are pushing change too fast or expecting too much of their employees.

Employee’s Role

When the process seems to be collapsing, the employee’s role must also be examined. In certain instances employees did not receive adequate training to fulfill the roles expected of them. In other cases too much is expected of employees too quickly. They are immediately overwhelmed and unable to deal with the circumstances.

A lack of employee involvement and empowerment in the process can cause major setbacks. Their lack of input and feedback did not foster the ownership of ideas and participation. Consequently, they perceived too high a personal risk, which created resistance. Since their involvement is essential, this created a void that was quickly filled with chaos.

The Plan’s Role

Consideration must be given to whether the plan underlying the process itself may be flawed. This can happen for a variety of reasons brought about by both the leader and employee’s participation (or lack thereof) in its development.

Motivation, beliefs, resistance and lack of skills and/or experience can give rise to a poorly conceived plan. Typically, such problems associated with either leadership’s or employees’ role in the process will impact the overall plan.

Timing and Timetable

Ill-conceived timing and timetables can wreak havoc. Inexperienced leaders might not be aware of the impact of certain change implementation dates on the organization. Additionally, attempts to accomplish too much too fast can overwhelm the entire organization.

The Organization’s Role

In certain instances, management can undermine their own efforts by micromanaging the process and issuing counterproductive dictates and mandates. In other circumstances, employees might not trust the motives of the company due to past experiences and existing policies.

Lack of management and financial support of the process undermines employees’ ability to accomplish their goals and objectives. Without proper support, leaders’ efforts will be severely hampered.

Question the Premises

Leaders must question the rationale and premise for the process of change. Based on their current experience, they must revisit the assumptions, facts, data and other key factors identified at the beginning of the process. They must determine if the logic and thinking behind the process is still valid in light of their experiences.

Determine Solution

Once the causes have been isolated, leaders are often forced to begin the entire change process again. However, now they have identified the sources of the problem and have learned from the experiences of past failures.

With this base of knowledge and expertise, they should be able to streamline the process and eliminate many of the bottlenecks. However, if they have not addressed the causes honestly and objectively, many of the same problems will recur.

Implement Plan

Once control has been regained, implementation of the process should proceed more cautiously, assuring that a solid foundation for change is established and that each step is successfully and competently achieved before moving ahead with the next.

Astute leaders should enlist the assistance of key influencers within their employee pool. These are the natural leaders who have the ability to persuade others and enlist their support. If these individuals are sold on the idea of change and understand that the benefits more than offset the risks associated with change, they will be able to convince others within their ranks of the same—and make the leader’s job much easier.

The leader should also ensure his or her employees have been properly trained in the necessary skills to do the job. Once they have achieved this level, they should be involved and empowered to participate and control the process from within their organizational unit.


Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Do Institutionalized Management Practices Create Formidable Obstacles to Change?

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Excerpt: Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: The Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011)

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Managers as Facilitators of Change

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When faced with the prospect of change, the biggest fear employees will have is that of the unknown, especially if the change is perceived to threaten their jobs and personal economic security. This insecurity is often fed by rumors, as well as the impact that change has had on other companies, industries, and the economy. Fears are heightened with the widespread dissemination of information through television, newspapers, the Internet and other media outlets.

The role of the manager is to lead by being an agent and facilitator of change. This is underscored by their personal vision of the future. As agents and facilitators of change, managers must understand that they will need to handle their employees’ fears and apprehensions regarding future changes potentially affecting their jobs and personal security.

Individuals create their own “comfort zones,” or established patterns and habits they are comfortable with. Change threatens these comfort zones and immediately places individuals in defensive modes as they attempt to defend their own personal “turfs.”

It is important for managers who lead to recognize employees’ responses to change and show them that circumstances outside of their control make change inevitable. They must share and communicate information that employees can understand and react to in a way that gets them actively participating in the organizational transformation brought about by the forces of change. This means managers must demonstrate to their employees that it is in their best interest to adapt if the organization is going to survive and prosper in the face of change.

Related: Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

There are a number of steps managers can take to lessen their employee’s fear of change and facilitate smoother transitions.


Managers as leaders understand the need for open dialogue and discussion with their employees, and that this must be predicated on a complete sharing of available facts and figures with them so they can see for themselves what the organization is facing.

Employees’ apprehensions can be greatly reduced by sharing available information in order for them to understand the reasons for change, the factors that make it inevitable and the options available. This openness enables employees to see the challenges facing the organization and gives them opportunities to provide input as to possible alternatives and solutions.

When information is withheld, employees are suspicious of leadership’s intentions and motivation. This surely undermines trusts and confidence, heightens fears and resistance.


The idea of change and the transformation of an organization during times of change are stressful on all parties involved. Employees want their leaders’ assurance that they will be treated fairly, that their ideas, feedback and input will be considered, and that they will be kept informed on the progress of changes and their potential impact.

If there have been circumstances in the past where the organization has not treated their employees with consideration, sentiments of mistrust will be present that leaders must deal with. Building adequate levels of trust is a challenge for managers, but enables them to lead their employees through periods of transformation.


As managers move their employees through an organizational transformation, they must make sure that they have built sufficient trust with them. Trust enables employees to have confidence in their leader’s direction. This is also true for the upper levels of the organization. Employees must have confidence in all decisions being made during times of change.

Without adequate confidence in their leadership, employees may trust the manager who is leading them at their specific level, but mistrust those higher up in the organization. This places the immediate manager in the precarious position of having to build employees’ trust and confidence in senior leadership. Prior experiences with these senior leaders may foster more mistrust than trust. In these cases, managers on all levels must cooperate to instill trust and confidence in all employees.

Related: Focusing Employees on Common Goals


Managers who respect their employees’ intelligence and abilities lay the facts on the table and solicit their ideas, perspectives and input. Employee involvement in addressing issues such as change bonds all together in the conquering of a common challenge. As the organization goes through a transformation, this cohesiveness is essential to ensure a smooth transition.

Involvement means gaining employee support and getting them actively working toward the development of a solution to everyone’s benefit. When wise enough to ask, many managers are astonished by the ideas and insight they receive from their employees. When the facts are placed before them and the choices spelled out, most employees will work together to achieve common goals and objectives. Most are actively involved because their future is at stake. There will be a certain percentage of employees who do not participate out of fear that their contribution will be used against them. In these instances, managers must inspire the rest of the group, hoping that positive peer pressure might influence more reluctant members to get involved.


The role of the manager is to lead employees through transformational change; the employee’s is to direct the change at their individual level. This means that in addition to their ideas, insights and feedback, employees must actively participate in implementing them on an individual level. When this active involvement is cultivated, employees are informed and actively part of the development of the solutions, resistance and fear of change can be minimized. This is because managers have empowered their employees both through ownership of ideas and the responsibility for seeing them successfully implemented. It is only when orders and directives are handed down without reason and rationale that employee resistance and fears increase.

Related: Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow


Managers know how to close the loop by providing employees with active feedback regarding the results of their efforts to transform the organization. This continual feedback provides a supply of accurate information enabling employees to make informed decisions on how to successfully adapt their ideas to new variables and conditions.

Excerpt: The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series by Timothy Bednarz (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011).

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

October 16, 2012 at 11:34 am

The Challenges We Face

with 2 comments

It is not only important for managers to recognize the challenges that they will face, but also to understand how to meet and overcome such trials. Preparation provides them with a starting point and the impetus to change.

As the complexity and depth of challenges increase, managers cannot afford to ignore the issues that currently confront them. Doing so will create a domino effect of problems that will continue to plague them until dealt with. More importantly, managers will learn that the obstacles, barriers and challenges to their business will continue at an alarming rate, fueled by technological advancements and changes in the global economy.

Cognizant of the above circumstances, managers can devote more time to meeting the strategic challenges that continue to confront their business. At the same time, more of the tactical issues must be pushed to the frontline employee. The strategic nature of many challenges precludes most managers from micromanaging the activities of their people and forces them to deal with the macro-issues of management.

Related: Adapt or be Bypassed

Several critical management challenges identified are listed below, along with specific strategies managers can employ to meet these challenges.

Reinforcing Employee Support Systems

The rapid flow of information between managers and their employees is the biggest challenge to be faced. It is recommended that managers conduct a complete reassessment of their employee support system. The best approach is to flowchart the entire system so as to completely understand its methodology and complexity. Over time, support systems tend to become increasingly complex and redundant as new elements are put into place, which overburdens the process.

Managers should consider a complete redesign of their support systems; this can start with a fresh set of goals and objectives to use as a foundation. With these goals and objectives in mind, managers should analyze the type and form of information that both they and their employees require, and the best means of obtaining and delivering that information. The key is to remember that most managers and employees are awash in information, but starving for knowledge. Managers should look for the best methods possible to deliver knowledge over information, providing support data and information if it needs to be referenced. Some vital areas to examine are:

  • The effective use of performance metrics to evaluate work.
  • The conversion of reports into action plans.
  • The minimization of data flow to eliminate information overload.

Realigning Internal Processes

Managers must conduct a comprehensive analysis of the buying habits and patterns of their customer base. As buyers become more sophisticated and are forced to face the realities of increased global competition and a depressed economy, their behaviors change. Managers must examine and monitor these changes, and analyze future trends: when compared to their existing processes, most will find profound shifts. The impact of the Internet on information gathering must be addressed along with the overall increase in risk factors that change the way companies handle their purchasing. The key is to realign the internal processes using all of the available tools and technologies to closely match customers’ buying behavior and to maximize the use of their people’s time and resources.

The business landscape is evolving and changing. It is important to monitor these changes and continually adapt and modify the operating processes accordingly.

Related: Power Must Be Shared for Organizations to Grow

Strengthening Employees’ Understanding of Customer Profit Economics

There is no doubt that many changes in the economy and marketplace have precipitated a shift in customer economics. If anything, many companies have been induced to reevaluate the manner in which they conduct business. Companies are purchasing more carefully and examining the return on investment a specific product or service delivers to them. Consequently, unless employees understand the economics of their business and how their product or service fits into that picture, they will be quickly discounted.

Managers should require their people to conduct a review of their companies’ major accounts in order to understand the specific application of their product or service, recognize the importance of that product or service to the customer, and glean how the product directly contributes to the customer’s profitability. Only when employees know how their product contributes to customer success can they successfully position themselves to contribute to the bottom line.

Reconstructing and Realigning Reward Programs

As companies realign their internal processes and require more servicing of accounts, managers must adjust their compensation plans to reflect these changes. Compensation plans should be designed so that employees perform desired activities and functions, which can include business development and service. Research shows that employees will gravitate to where they are making the most money. If they are paid on commission it is unlikely service will be important to them.

Managers should identify and prioritize desired behaviors. Based upon what they come up with they will have a platform for creating a compensation program that meets their goals.

Related: Dealing With the Challenges of Change

Flattening Decision Making

Managers are challenged to move the decisions typically made by managers directly to their frontline people. Employees are thus given the latitude to make quick and timely operational decisions that can positively impact the speed and quality of results.

Strengthening Employees’ Understanding of Their Companies’ Profit Economics

Employees should be educated in the profit margins of the products/services their company sells. They need to understand the impact an order has on their business as well as the financial ramifications of customer concessions. Once furnished with this information, their performance should be evaluated not only on their specific work-related activities, but also on the profitability of the portion of business for which they are responsible.

Excerpt: Overcoming Management Challenges: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Dealing With the Challenges of Change

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The management of change can be personally frightening for many leaders. They fear criticism and personal attacks from associates and superiors. Most importantly, they dread the potential failure associated with change and the possible impact of such failure on their career.

Most organizations make it easier to say “no” to a project that is associated with change than to approve one. When they reject a project, managers protect themselves from having to justify tough decisions and facing the criticism that comes with a failing project. Moreover, when approving a project, many managers discover they are forced to work harder, take more risks and suffer more criticism than they are prepared to deal with. And if they do fail, they often discover that the less innovative and more risk-averse associates are rewarded by the organization.

This is important for leaders to understand because if the above scenario is a reality in their organization, it places a damper on their ability to innovate in the face of change. However, innovative leaders can take solace in the fact that much of the undue criticism heaped upon them is often based on misdirected frustrations; in fact, individuals are often unhappy with what is already happening in their organization, but have a hard time grasping the need to evolve to maintain or renew success. Leaders must come up with ways to overcome this internal inertia as part of their responsibility to manage change in their organization.

Organizations can and will change—it is a matter of choice. Leaders faced with the responsibility of managing change in their organization must overcome the specific challenges described below if they want to be successful.

Related: Leaders Should Set a Clear and Decisive Tone at the Top

Fear of Failure

Fear on all levels is the biggest challenge for leaders. There may be several ways for leaders to use early successes and ideas that can be tested and refined, and then leverage them into more substantial achievements. However, they are often faced with senior management’s fear of failure and their own fear of being criticized by investors, customers and even the competition. Often leaders can hesitate to enact change simply because it might affect just a few customers, even if that same change can increase the satisfaction of the majority of their clients.

Dealing with Committees

Leaders should understand that committees in most organizations are one of the primary barriers to change. While small committees can be effective, large groups can be impossible to deal with. If fact, most organizations make it easy for a single committee member to say “no” and veto a new idea or concept—thus requiring a unanimous “yes” for anything to move forward. Consequently, the larger the committee, the longer it will take a leader to convince each member that a new concept or idea is worthwhile.

Related: Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Handling Critics

For most critics, adopting a new idea, concept or strategy means turning away from the focus that is currently making the organization successful. Most of these critics see change not as an evolution of ideas and concepts that makes the organization better, faster and more competitive, but as a zero-sum game where one side wins at the expense of the other. The arguments they espouse are often formed by their personal fear of failure.

Leaders can effectually deal with such critics by setting ground rules for criticism, including:

  1. Criticize an idea based on how well it meets its objectives. If the critics don’t care for the objectives, then the objectives must be discussed as a separate matter.
  2. Weigh the idea against the status quo, being sure to look at present failures and problems.
  3. If a critic doesn’t like an idea, he or she must come up with an alternative. A lack of a solution is not an acceptable solution.
  4. Criticism for criticism’s sake should not be tolerated, nor should personal attacks.

Related: Do Institutionalized Management Practices Create Formidable Obstacles to Change?

Redefine Change and Failure

One of the biggest aspects of managing change is in redefining the rules. What was acceptable in the past may not be acceptable in the current climate of change. Therefore, leaders must redefine failure as it pertains to the organization. The fear of failure results in inertia as organizations struggle to maintain the status quo. And, ironically, maintaining the status quo in the face of change will always result in failure. As previously stated, a lack of a solution is not an acceptable solution.

Additionally, leaders must redefine change within the organization. They must make it clear that continuous change is the normal state of affairs. Accordingly, it must be redefined as something that is an expected part of every normal job, not something that is a cause for panic and anxiety. If individuals accept this reformulation, then risk will automatically be redefined; when change is a normal part one’s job, the risks associated with change are thus minimized. This shift in perspective helps reduce personal levels of stress and anxiety and makes the responsibility of managing change easier as leaders help their organization evolve through small, incremental steps.

Excerpt: Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series(Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

September 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

Adapt or Be Bypassed

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In the face of overwhelming change, it is often difficult to predict the future with any certainty. Managers must have the flexibility to adapt to change and harness its forces to their advantage. In many cases the results of such an upheaval cause a shift in both thinking and actions. While this process can be difficult for some managers to adjust to, one thing is certain: they can either adapt or be bypassed. Market and business conditions are unforgiving to the manager who resists change.

Managers must recognize that many of the traditional business models of the past are no longer applicable. A number of organizations have employed a host of management fads over the past decade with either limited success or disastrous results. Aside from the implementation of new ideas and concepts meant to enrich the authors rather than the company, it is certain that managers must deal with the ever-increasing forces of change that appear to be both overwhelming and unrelenting.

It is important for managers to understand that they are forced to adapt to and align themselves with the changes impacting their industry and company. The traditional direct-and-control role is being replaced by the principles of active leadership and empowerment as the most effective method to anticipate and handle changes in the business environment and marketplace. As a result, the manager is required to take a proactive rather than a passive stance. In this way leaders are on the alert and prepared to deal with the constantly changing business environment.

Managers must adapt to meet the demands of their company, customers and the marketplace. Their professional development and transformation into a proactive leader is interlinked with the changes their organization must make to survive and prosper. The shift can be accomplished by the continual application of the ideas listed below. Since change is continuous and relentless, the evolution of new ideas and professional development must also be ongoing.

Related: You Keep Innovating if You Want to Keep Leading


Managers must always be seeking new ideas to implement in their business. The best source of new ideas and insights lies within the native knowledge of their individual employees. They are positioned in the front lines of the business where they gather feedback from both coworkers and customers, and see firsthand what the competition is doing in the marketplace. Unfortunately, in many organizations this wealth of knowledge is seldom tapped, much less converted into a useful form. Yet this source of information, insight and ideas are at the manager’s fingertips.

Managers need to schedule ongoing brainstorming sessions to utilize their employees’ knowledge and work through ideas and concepts. Where geographically dispersed branches or locations prohibit this, managers should consider a threaded discussion group using email as a tool to engage their employees as a group.

Brainstorming has distinct advantages in that it feeds on participant synergy in order to build on ideas and concepts. Most participants feel energized and motivated when the exercise is properly undertaken and all ideas and feedback are considered and treated with respect.

Related: The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

Abandon Prejudices

Most seasoned managers have personal prejudices regarding how things in their business should be run. Formed from their experiences and successes over the span of their career, these biases can hinder a manager’s ability to develop and implement new ideas and concepts. With the speed and impact of change in the world now, it is essential to know that what has worked in the past may no longer be effective, and that the fact that old processes may still be in place does not mean there are not better ways of doing things.

New ideas and concepts developed during brainstorming or from other forms of feedback should not be summarily dismissed as a “bad fit” for the corporate culture. Managers need to put aside their personal prejudices and examine viable ideas from all angles in order to determine whether they have an application or can improve employee and company performance.

Implement New Ideas

While managers should seek out new ideas from their employees, customers and their own research, more must be done. After developing these ideas, determining their applicability to the company, and prioritizing them, managers must then implement those that can have the most impact.

People generally fear that new approaches will not work. However, managers must overcome their reluctance by continually testing new ideas. If they do fail, they should learn from the experience and move on to other concepts. It is from a series of failures and the subsequent lessons learned that new and viable ideas are built.

Related: Four Major Barriers to Effective Empowerment

Remove Barriers

Managers must remove barriers their employees may encounter that hinder their effectiveness, productivity and efficiency. In the sales environment, this can typically include reports as well as reworking procedures that hinder their ability to directly deal with a prospect or customer.

Managers need to measure what is actually needed versus what is currently required. The implementation of new ideas and the increase in the level of customer service may require a streamlining of procedures to enhance the individual employee’s ability to be productive and attain desired results.

Think Small

From the mid-90s to the mid-00s there was a tendency for companies with a “bigger is better” mindset to expand through acquisitions and mergers. However, managers must now think small. This adjustment may include reorganizing units into smaller cells that are more adaptable to change. Additionally, thinking small should translate into the areas of goals and planning. IBM built their business on the philosophy of small successes. By breaking their goals down into a series of less daunting, more easily attained steps, employees were able to build their confidence and motivation by completing one after another. The outcome was the same as giving employees the entire goal at once, but in this manner it did not seem insurmountable.

Related: You Don’t Choose Your Passions, Your Passions Choose You

Lead with Passion

As managers transform themselves into proactive leaders they must evolve in their style so that they lead with a passion, sharing their personal vision at every opportunity with their employees, customers and suppliers. They will find that their passion is contagious and that it will impact the performance of the entire team.

Excerpt: Professional Development: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD


Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

August 14, 2012 at 10:44 am

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