Article

4 Ways to Become a Change Leader & Master Risk & Change

September 21, 2022

The world is constantly changing, and there is a constant pressure as leaders to do more with less and faster. 

The ability to successfully navigate risk and deliver change has become the emblem of a modern leader. Yet when we ask our clients  how well their organizations navigate Project Risk and Change, CEOs almost unanimously answer; “Poorly!”

Why is this? There’s something intimidating about making a mistake, misunderstanding something and not “getting IT right.” Change requires experimentation, doing our jobs differently and increases the risk that we won’t “get IT right,” so people avoid and if possible disengage from change.

It’s ok, it’s human! And, leadership is about people. 

It’s time to admit;  Leaders lead change, projects rarely go according to plan, team members don’t like it, and “getting IT wrong” isn’t just for special occasions. That’s why the world needs Project, Product & Change Leaders. We exist because things never JUST go according to plan. 

We exist to help our team members navigate the “messy” associated with change and experimentation so they can ultimately deliver some form of positive transformation.

The good news … If everything always went according to plan, Project, Product & Change Leaders would be bored, our job would be to hand out high-fives and we would only be required a couple of hours per week.

At team check ins, members would give universal thumbs-ups, and Project, Product & Change Leaders would publish status reports with nothing but good news. And …  Our jobs would be so easy, we would make minimum wage!

Since that never happens, the demand for Project, Product, and Change Leaders who can confidently navigate risk and change are essential. 

So, are you a leader who can demystify and help your team navigate risk and change? 

Now is the time to start or continue your journey to become a Change Leader. There are no boundaries across professional fields, today, change leaders are needed everywhere. Whether you’re in infosec, cyber security, project management, organizational development, human resources, or any other field, it’s time to learn how to master change to become an effective leader.

Check out our 4 ways to start your journey as a Change Leader:

 

1. Don’t Try to Manage It

Sounds a little counterproductive, right? Trust us, the biggest lesson you can learn in becoming a Change Leader is to stop trying to manage change.

Instead of trying to manage it, adopt a Change Leader mindset! Embrace change. When something new pops up, assess the impact of change on the project cost and schedule. Then provide that info to the Project or Product Owner so they can make an informed decision. Yes, in that scenario, they are the owner, but you are the leader!

That’s how to LEAD change, not manage it.

 

2. Make your team feel safe

Simon Sinek said it best: Good leaders make you feel safe. Leaders help their teams architect their own roadmap to a shared goal. Then they make them feel safe to experiment, get messy and learn from every step until they “get IT right.”  Transformation is a journey of missteps and learning that lead to success. Rarely do we get it right the first time. Sometimes the recipe for leadership, teamwork and transformation feels like the Fort Minor jam titled “Remember the Name.”

“It’s ten percent luck, Twenty percent skill, Fifteen percent concentrated power of will, Five percent pleasure, Fifty percent pain, And a hundred percent reason to remember the name”

Ultimately effective leadership isn’t about you, it’s about serving the team.

 

3. Learn the Critical Path…and actually Manage it

Once you help your team architect their roadmap to a shared goal, you will have a plan. Take a little more time to set up predecessor/successor relationships and you can use your plan to regularly give your team the information they need to prioritize their commitments and stay focused on #GSD. You can leverage the power of the critical path.

Do you think the Project Managers in your organization are doing that already? If you don’t know how much slack your blockers/impediments have or what their “Late Finish Date” is, your Project Managers aren’t managing to the critical path. They aren’t giving their team members the information they need to prioritize their workload across projects.

Some quick tips to manage the critical path are to:

  • Set up predecessor/successor relationships in your planning tool.
  • Use Slack to identify any upcoming planned work that is on the critical path. Any task with ≤ 10 of slack is on the critical. Make sure you are eliminating any obstacle to starting a critical path task two weeks in advance. That way, everything that might impact project cost and schedule is staged and ready to go.
  • Use slack to prioritize impediments. Impediments prevent planned work from completing on time. The impeded tasks with the lowest amount of slack should be solved first, since it’s impediment will be the first to impact the project end date and cost.
  • Late Date is used to communicate a deadline, the late finish date is the day before an impediment begins impacting the project end date & cost

Once you’ve mastered the Critical Path, your teams will be crushing their projects! 

 

4. Communicate to Lead

Back to the importance of leadership and communication. 

At this point, I am hoping you agree that leadership is about taking your team and organization on a journey. You foster trust, so your team members feel safe, you have a plan and are crushing the critical path. 

That all requires clear, transparent communication or what we would call leadership! That’s right …  We communicate to plan, set expectations and lead! The key performance indicator of a leader is that we enable our stakeholders to define and deliver the necessary and expected results.

If your team is struggling to achieve the necessary and expected results because of confusion, lack of clarity, or miscommunication. It’s time to work harder on your leadership. It’s time to double down on enabling your stakeholders to define and deliver the necessary and expected results. It’s time to focus on your “Communicate to Lead” skills. 

 

Want to learn how to really master these traits and actually start putting all these things into practice? Register for our Workshop, The Art of Navigating Risk & Change, to dig deep and achieve a new level of understanding for driving risk & change to get sh*t done. 

Interested in more ways to master your leadership abilities? Check out our Leadership Academy where we provide an array of courses, workshops, and talks to empower a new generation of transformative leaders! 

Jason Scott

From the start of his career spent jumping out of helicopters as a Rescue Swimmer in the United States Navy, J. Scott has a long history of leadership, servanthood, and bearing witness to the transformative power of getting shit done. Since starting 120VC he's personally overseen the global transformational efforts within organizations such as DirecTV, Trader Joe's, Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Pictures, Mattel, and others. His team's unique, irreverent approach to change has generated breakthrough results and created meaningful jobs. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, J. Scott is a devoted husband and father and author of "It's Never Just Business: It's About People," and "The Irreverent Guide to Project Management," both available on Amazon.com.

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