I have been running a lot of workshops lately for leaders, and there appears to be a common theme coming out of them. As we have been exploring numerous models and ideas to assist these leaders to become even more effective, many of them seem to feel overwhelmed by the expectation to implement at once, everything they are learning, in order to ‘embed’ the new behaviours or approaches.
This is something I have experience multiple times over my career, along with many of the leaders I work with. It is interesting to note that often when we attempt to implement multiple initiatives at once, we can make mistakes, miss things, and often not have the impact that we are looking for. Why is this? As a senior leader once shared with me over 7 years ago, we often seek to ‘boil the ocean’, in other words, attempt to implement too much at once. And this can actually lead to poor implementation and poor or less than acceptable results for the team. And often this can be a spiral downward, almost out of control. When this happens, it tends to affect our attitude, which directly influences our mindset. And our mindset affects our behaviours, which leads to our results. And when we achieve poor results, what happens to our attitude? You get the picture.
So if you currently find yourself in a position where you feel as though you are ‘boiling the ocean’ and attempting to implement multiple initiatives at once, consider the following points :
- Take inventory of where you are at and where the team is at. Of all the things you could implement (or even need to implement), ask yourself what the priorities are. Very rarely if you have a list of 10 initiatives to implement, will all 10 be a number 1 priority. Others may think that, however, this is typically based on more senior leaders seeking to impose their seniority, power and priorities on to you. Rank the initiatives that need to be done in order of priority, taking into consideration any areas that have key dependencies in order to be implemented effectively.
- Having compiled your list of priorities, now select which 1 or 2 that can be implemented immediately, that require the least amount of effort and dependency. These are the ‘low hanging fruit’ that can be implemented straight away and have an impact. They may not be life changing, however, they can certainly build positive momentum.
- Next, select the 1 initiative that you believe will have the most positive impact on the team, and only implement that. In fact, focus on this one initiative for the next 30 days and make it your number 1 priority. Doing this will achieve 2 things, 1) it will build a habit as you become more competent in the execution, and 2) it will lay a strong foundation for implementing the next initiative.
- After 30 days, review the impact you have had on the team with the implemented initiative, and then select the next initiative to focus on for the next 30 days. It is important to note here that having implemented the 1st initiative during the previous 30 days, that we do not lose focus on that – hopefully the 30 day implementation has allowed it to be embedded, so when implementing the next initiative, you really should just be in the maintaining phase of the 1st initiative.
- Repeat this process every 30 days until all of your priority initiatives have been implemented and embedded. Doing it this way enables you to build a very solid leadership structure that will have a significantly better chance of being sustainable, compared to attempting to implement 10 initiatives at once.
Now, you may be thinking ‘well that’s all well and good in theory but you don’t understand the pressure that I constantly have on me to make rapid changes and implement initiatives quickly, especially when the senior leaders want it done now!’ And I fully appreciate that, and I also appreciate that you have been entrusted with the responsibility of leadership, and with that comes a level of autonomy to make informed and responsible decisions. Otherwise you would simply be a Manager, right? One of the key responsibilities of leadership is to lead upwards, to set the correct expectations and remain committed to the course. And at the end of the day, I like to think that the majority of senior leaders are reasonable people and when provided with compelling evidence, they will support your approach.
- Remember the most important aspect of all – attitude. Remember attitude leads to mindset, which determines behaviours and then results. Always ensure that when implementing new initiatives, maintain a positive, empowering and uplifting attitude. It will 100% lead to better results than the opposite attitude!
So if you currently find yourself feeling overwhelmed by having to implement a tonne of initiatives, break them down, prioritise them, and implement them 1 at a time over 30 day periods. You will notice that your effectiveness will soar, the initiatives will have a much higher probability of being embedded, and you will feel even more awesome. And always remember, how long does it take to boil the ocean? Infinitely longer than it takes to boil a pot of water!!
To your continued leadership success.
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.