Becoming a Cultural Change Leader
When someone uses the term "Cultural Leader," it is easy to get visions of MLK or Ghandi, but what if you just want to be a change leader in your organization. Becoming a leader that people will follow actually only requires three components.
First, you must be consistent. Your message must match your practice, your language must repeat, almost on autopilot, and your passion must remain high for the change you wish to lead.
Consistency breeds trust.
In my lifetime, the motor companies of America have gone through major changes. Many of the almost went out of business, because they couldn't sell enough cars during the recession of 2008, and so they were "rescued" by federal funds. One American owned car company needed no such help. The still family owned Ford motor company remained strong and even grew its market share during the recession. What is even more impressive is that these vehicles seem to have advanced in their stability as well. Many of the cars produced by Ford during the downturn of other companies are still on the road 11 years later.
Why then, is Ford still so often referred to as "Found On Road Dead." The fact is that while stats, figures and even visible proof, would seem to suggest otherwise, many people were raised to not believe in Ford, and so they don't.
How has Ford responded to the negativity? Consistent, quality auto manufacturing. This is why they thrived when others struggled, and consistency will leave a grater legacy.
Second, you will need clarity. Know your goals. Know your plan. Know your script, and stay on track.
My coach, Kary Oberbrunner says, "Clarity attracts. Confusion repels."
When you are trying to lead others to change you must be crystal clear with the dream destination you are seeking. The more strategic your plan, the more you will be able to attract those who might otherwise think you are just a trend. Still your preferred future must be compelling enough to sustain others through the grind of change.
You must also be just as clear about who the enemy is you must conquer. Fear is not a great motivator to get people to stand in long battles, but it is a great way to get them to change direction. A common enemy is far more compelling for immediate change than even a preferred future.
One more thing. You must be clear about your expected or at least desired timeline. Parkinson's law, work will fill the time allotted. So be reasonable, but clear about your when.
Last you will need good character. Character is "who you are when no one is looking." Angela Duckworth demonstrated in her book, Grit, that many successful people are the result of grit far more than plans or talent. Furthermore, your goal needs to be good. If you are not a person who is striving to put others first, fight for people not born yet, and make the world a better place to live, people may follow you in the short term, but the culture will not change.
Long-term culture change comes as a result of great sacrifice, so only those who truly want to better the lives of those they lead will be able to sustain that change when they are gone.
Whether you lead a nation, a company, a church, a family, or just yourself, cultural change comes as a result of consistent, clear vision lead by good character.
So, go change our world.