If you are looking at this site for the first time, let me supply some context. For the past several weeks, I’ve been describing each of the “six stages of change” identified in the book Changing for Good by James Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente.
This week’s article addresses “Action--The Most Visible of the Six Stages of Change.” This stage is what most people characteristically consider the essence of change--"Let's DO something!"
Studying this book has opened my eyes to why beneficial change is so difficult! The experience has been a paradigm shift for me--I now understand past successes and failures with clients far more clearly.
I hope that as you read these entries and their associated articles, you are able to see evidence of what stage you are in relative to improvements you desire to make.
The authors of the Changing for Good book suggest that an individual or organization not short-change the "preparation" stage, as described in “Preparation—A Necessary Step Prior to Taking Action.”
I've found that counsel hard to enforce, however. Once a decision has been made in the "contemplation" stage to proceed, people tend to want to get on with it! Fortunately, trial and error is a very powerful learning tool. If a person jumps in with both feet and finds resistance, he or she can always try something different.
That presumes, of course, that the individual doesn't just give up and choose to put no more effort against the improvement. That's the risk that is run with short-circuiting the preparation stage.
In this week’s article, I mention conducting an organizational health assessment. Over the past few years, I've written four articles dealing with organizational health assessments. If you want to see those articles, they are here:
--"Organizational Assessment--Part 1"
--"Organizational Assessment--Part 2"
--"Why Are We Evaluating the Health of Our Organization?"
This article, "Serious Contemplation--Thinking About Improvement," and the ones from the past two weeks have been huge awareness enhancers for me. I realize now why some clients have progressed so well and others have struggled.
Some of my clients started with me in the "action" stage---I should have slowed them down and even backed them up into at least the "contemplation" stage for awhile. They did not deeply understand why they were choosing their direction, and they had not built up the commitment that comes from more clearly understanding their previous circumstances.
The Changing for Good book, and especially these articles that I'm generating from the information in the book, will definitely help me reduce mistakes with future clients. Further, my new insights will help future clients take the steps necessary to increase the probability of their success.
Surely everyone wants to improve his or her organization, right? That's the first sentence of this week's article, “Do I Really Want to Improve My Organization?”
I think people really do love it when improvement occurs. But making a commitment to actively seek intentional improvement, and to do it routinely--that seems to be asking a lot.
Many leaders seem to equate "leadership skills" with the functional and technical skills necessary for providing basic service to their customers--knowing their products and being able to deliver the services they advertise. Sure, if you're selling refrigerators, you better know and understand the specifics of each make and model. If you are an investment counselor, you better be able to answer questions about the volatility of today's stock market.
"Leadership skills" extend beyond those basic "business specific" skills. What systems do you have in place to build skills such as listening, dealing with ambiguity, caring about direct reports, conflict management, proper delegation, patience, priority setting, strategic agility, and dozens of other leadership attributes? Do you expect the capabilities of your future leaders to grow just by them handling the day-to-day responsibilities of their current job role? Sorry, that expectation is not realistic.
If you've never thought about this, you (and maybe your organization) are in the "precontemplation" stage. How do you move beyond that point? Think about it. That's the first step, and I'll describe "contemplation" in more detail in my article next week!
Many leaders don't have time or energy to think about improvement when times are hard (or when times are good!).
When times are neither good or bad, they want something "out there" to change.
Discovering the "six stages of change" model, and especially understanding the first two stages (where most of my potential clients are relative to "leadership development"), has been hugely enlightening.
Take a look at this week's article, “Times are Hard! I Can’t Focus on Improvement Now!” Can you see that most organizations that have never thought seriously about any systematic approach to leadership development are in the precontemplation stage?
If I can just get them to move to "contemplation," that would be huge progress!