Leaders See the Future, Doubt is Part of the Deal, and Change Resistance is like Gravity
This week, I had the opportunity to represent CHS on a Product Transformation Community Panel hosted by Slalom. I was joined on the panel by Brett Brunick of Thrivent and Stacie Peterson of U.S. Bank. I’m not going to recap the discussion but will instead offer some reflections and thoughts I’ve had since the event.
The whole premise of an event like this is that many tech leaders are facing similar challenges in Product Transformation, and we can listen to voices of experience to help us avoid pitfalls and take the quickest path to success. This is completely true and is always helpful. If for no other reason, it helps us realize that we aren’t alone in our struggles, and we aren’t completely crazy either. Community is a powerful thing, and I’m always glad to contribute.
I’ve concluded that some common leadership concepts apply to just about every significant change effort. I’ll use this article to explain them.
Technology leaders see the future
We can’t help it. We are just more future-oriented than normal folks. Being forced to live in the present is just downright annoying. Where’s my flying car? Why can’t Scotty beam me up yet? Why hasn’t my future self-traveled back in time to stop me from making terrible mistakes? If you are bothered by these things, you might be a technology leader.
Nearly everyone else lives in the present, and some live in the past. These are the people we must lead. They need us. We need them. Leadership requires a huge amount of patience to bring others along on the journey. If you can’t be patient, you can’t lead.
Doubt is part of the deal
My favorite leadership author is Seth Godin. He said, “Doubt is part of the deal. That’s how we know we are onto something.” Some have a false notion that leaders have complete confidence. That’s not leadership. That’s psychosis.
Every great leadership endeavor is shrouded in doubt every step along the way. If you don’t have any doubts, then you either aren’t bold enough, or you have some sort of disorder. Doubt is part of the deal. Expect it. Push through it.
Fighting change resistance is like fighting gravity
Never underestimate the power of maintaining the status quo. It’s stronger than you can imagine. Your choice to drive change is just like the Wright brothers deciding to build an airplane. Gravity will resist you every step of the way. Gravity isn’t mad at you. It doesn’t hate your guts. It just is.
Set your expectations accordingly. Build your plane and fly. Gravity and change resistance are inanimate, dispassionate forces that want nothing more than to keep you on the ground where you belong. Defy because you can.
You might be leading the journey to the cloud. You might be modernizing your ERP. You might be leading the transformation from project to product. You might be changing your entire company operating model. It doesn’t matter. This is what it takes to lead. See you in the future.