How I learned to avoid the glaring face in the back of the room

May 26, 2021

I never want to feel that again and you don’t need to.

It took me years to build up confidence in delivering presentations. It was hard enough presenting to a small group, but to stand up in front of my team and describe the changes that were going to happen to us all was terrifying.
I remember standing there, feeling like an enemy of the peace. One of them. Looking at nervous faces among the people I was to protect. Already seeing awkward looks, crossed arms, ready to pounce. Willing to discredit whatever I might say.
The decisions weren’t even my decisions, I didn’t understand them, but I had to see them through. I had to guide my team to benefit as many as I could. It was one of the hardest lessons in leadership.
Even harder, reading the torrent of abuse about other changes I’d led. Comment after comment on a Facebook thread – frustration, veiled threat, discontent. Emotionally exhausting.
So, how did I keep summoning the energy to keep moving forward? Key is an ingrained value that Change Management Is About People, Not Process.
My mantra is that leadership is about people leading people who serve people.
I’ve spent years learning that people are complex – they have feelings, hopes, and fears even. I know!
When you get a group together, you get some norms. You learn the politics and power dynamics, and yet it’s easy to forget that each person brings in their own set of complexity. There is often something else going on for that person.
Then there’s the assumption that our customers are the same – when in fact, they can exponentially increase the level of complexity. Especially when you consider how the team member having a bad day might have a bad interaction with a customer who tells ten more customers.
When you start from that place, you can see how implementing a new process, even as small as changing a uniform, might spin off in so many different directions. Embracing uncertainty forces you to let go of control and instead focus on what you can do to mitigate risk. It forces you to consider language closely and to let go of a notion of pleasing everyone.
If there was only success tip I could give you about change it would be that… but you know already that I’m an oversharer and next month I’ll be sharing my big six levers to help your team

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