Digital transformation means asking people to change and rethink their assumptions about work, customers, business model, processes, and much more.
Change is the real reason that digital transformation is so difficult. Although new technology presents challenges, business is about people, and that means culture and mindset shifts. The difficulty associated with organizational change is well known to anyone who has tried to innovate or do something new.
The importance of this issue led me to Joe Hart, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training. You know, the folks behind the famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This organization operates in 90 countries, has been around since 1912, and has a brand synonymous with great leadership.
I invited Joe as a guest on CXOTALK to teach us the secrets of communication and leadership. The conversation went on for 45 minutes, and you should watch the entire video for a quick understanding of the Dale Carnegie approach. You can also read a complete transcript.
Here is a summary video, in which Hart offers advice, based on Dale Carnegie principles, for leading transformation and change in organizations. He also speaks about the foundations of creating greater influence.
Following the video is an edited transcript of this short section from our discussion. The bottom line: treat people with respect and learn to understand their perspective. Leadership and influence start with genuine empathy as the mindset; however, do not make the mistake of confusing empathy or compassion with weakness. Continue reading to learn more...
How can a leader drive successful change inside their organization?
Sometimes people will get a couple of data points and then extrapolate it all the way to the end, and like what's going on. That resistance, that fear, is internally driven.
The first thing is, "How to manage myself and embrace what might be something really good for me or really good for the company?" Have a positive attitude, an open attitude at least, and really look at how I respond to things.
As a leader, recognize the people that are often afraid of change. I think number one don't just come out and change things. Before you change, listen to people and talk about what kind of change. [Ask,] "What kind of changes do you think we need here," and listen to gather and understand. Take those different points of view into consideration. So it's not just my plan, it's our plan.
We're working together on a plan and then the question is how do I communicate it? The last thing you want is someone to hear about this through the grapevine. Where there's lack of communication, There's a vacuum, which creates gossip and worry. Get out ahead of the change, as much as possible, and try to promote transparency.
The wrong way to go about change is to say, "Here's what we're doing and you better get on board." The better way is to involve people, so we work on the change together, communicate that change together. Be open to questions and try to be empathetic. Don't just to say, "Look, just suck it up or whatever the issue might be." We need to put ourselves in the other person's shoes and try to see things honestly from the other person's point of view.
In doing that, we can ultimately move an entire organization or department to change.
How can we increase influence?
Sometimes we fire things off so quickly we're not thinking about the impact of the words we use, the things we're going to say, or put ourselves in the position of the recipient of that message. Influence really starts even in that context.
There are exceptions to this. There are people who are audacious. There are people who are offensive. There are people who followers just because they are unusual.
At the same time, some of the greatest thought leaders are people [who are] respectful and communicate that perspective in a way that is ultimately going to help, or influence, an audience.
Even you, here, with this show, try to provide your audience with value. So, fundamentally, you're trying to [practice] what Dale Carnegie and we espouse. [We try to] put ourselves in the audiences' shoes and ask, "How do we offer something?"
The greatest opportunity to influence starts with the other person's point of view. Be sensitive or attentive to that.