Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

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Defending Against Personal Burnout and Frustration

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fearfulman

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.

Pace

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.

Incorporate

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.

Experiment

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.

Related:

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

Seven Productive Responses to Change

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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 total process is like trying to navigate across a table filled with a number of spinning tops: each spins at different directions and speeds, bumping into one another, knocking each other out of their orbits. Controlling the process of change is similar. In this type of atmosphere it is extremely difficult, and at times virtually impossible, to plot a straight and stable course.

The difficulty in controlling the process of change is important for leaders to appreciate, as their reaction demands a high degree of flexibility and adaptability to rapidly altering environments, circumstances and events. Their response must include continual and active involvement in the midst of change, “getting their hands dirty” as problems and crises erupt, handling and resolving each as the process of transformation moves through its charted course.
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.

Testing

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.

Listening

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.

Excerpt: The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, 2011)

If you would like to learn more about how to personally manage change and its effects, refer to The Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series. This training skill-pack features eight key interrelated concepts, each with their own discussion points and training activity. It is ideal as an informal training tool for coaching or personal development. It can also be used as a handbook and guide for group training discussions. Click here to learn more.

Copyright © 2011 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

November 17, 2011 at 10:59 am

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