I’ve said it before: it’s more powerful to be like water than fire. Amber Nasalund has written a piece on her outstanding “Brass Tack Thinking” blog I think describes some of the finer points of why this matters.
- Change is incremental more than it is ever sweeping and broad. It happens in tiny pieces over time, in a non-linear way.
- Resistance is only overcome over time, with consistent evidence, ongoing encouragement, and by presenting small, realistic steps that can be seen and felt in the short term even while working toward a long-term vision.
- Culture, mindset, and attitudinal change is some of the hardest and potentially most frustrating work there is. It’s also some of the most rewarding.
- Brute force doesn’t work. Even if you’re changing a process, the humans behind it have to do the work to make it happen. Humans are emotional creatures with egos, values, insecurities, irrational thought patterns, and pride. Those things shatter under the wrong kind of pressure. In short, you can only ever lead the horse.
- There is a point where you have to let go and realize that now might not be the time. No one can tell you what that point is.
Leading with this lens requires character (which is hard) and a strong sense of self (also hard). It also requires the leader to take a long view of success. Most leaders aim to be in any role for a year or two at the most before moving on, which further complicates things.
Still, never giving up combined with genuine partnering (including listening when someone disagrees) across the business has been the secret to whatever success I’ve had to date.
Thanks to Amber for a great post.