Charting a Course in Change Management

Webinar presentation for SMPS Southeast Regional Conference

Recently, I had the pleasure of presenting “Charting a Course in Change Management” with Courtney Kearney for The Society of Marketing Professional Services Southeast Regional Conference.In the presentation, we outlined Dr. Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Change Management. I had presented this topic with Courtney about 6 months ago at a Zweig Conference in Las Vegas. It’s amazing how much can change in such a short time. During our initial presentation, Covid-19 wasn’t even on the radar. When we were addressing questions from the audience, they focused mainly on how to handle implementing technological changes to accommodate growth in an expanding market. Now, our presentation featured questions from the audience on how to manage changes forced on our business based on a global pandemic. Although change is the only constant, why does it still feel so hard even with the small changes? Why do we resist something that is so natural? Even though I’d like to think of myself as someone who can handle change well, Covid-19 has taught me that I still have so much to learn. If you’re curious to hear more about change management, please check out the presentation that Courtney and I gave on July 10, 2020.

Don’t Waste a Crisis

A little more than a year ago, I became a mother and never has my life become so small and large at the same time. I went out a little less and I focused quite a bit more on raising my son. I thought I had settled into my new routine until Covid-19 hit. 

Since beginning to live a more socially distanced life, I thought my very small world would get even smaller. However, in this time of increased stillness, I’ve found an opportunity by beginning to question my deep-rooted beliefs as I watch an ever-increasing Covid-19 death count and social media exploding with racial injustice.

It was once said, “Never waste a crisis.” In this current crisis we find ourselves in, I find myself asking more questions than ever before. And what makes this time more challenging than previous times in my life is I could distract myself by going somewhere or creating tasks to keep myself busy. Now, I have to be still, look into my son’s eyes, and really think carefully about the important “stuff” life is really about.

The Covid-19 health crisis has forced me to ask questions about my purpose and if I’m the type of wife, mother, and friend I want to be. The Black Lives Matter Movement has inspired me to think that maybe change is possible. Maybe we’ve reached the tipping point as a nation that real change can start to take place. 

In this moment of uncertainty, I find the questions comforting because I’m no longer plugging away in my day-to-day without a focus. I can make everyday count just a little more because I’m more contemplative than I’ve been in months. 

In my life, the times when I’ve felt the most stuck or isolated are the exact times when the most growth is happening. I hope I will be strong and focused enough to not let the current crisis be a wasted moment in my life, rather I hope it will serve as inspiration on how to do better in the next chapter.

Leading in Times of Peace and Crisis

Recently, I stumbled across an article in the Harvard Business Review about wartime and peacetime CEOs. I found this topic fascinating in how leaders approach times of crisis versus times of relative peace.

What Does a Wartime Leader Look Like?

In the article, Bill Taylor, Taylor epitomizes the Wartime CEO as that of Andy Grove. Grove’s book, Only the Paranoid Survive, epitomizes the philosophy behind the Wartime leader. A wartime leader must maintain focus in order for his or her organization to survive. OKRs or objectives and key results were born out of this idea. 

What Does a Peacetime Leader Look Like?

A peacetime leader is focused on growth and expanding the boundaries of the existing organization. These leaders pride themselves on creating culture, inspiring growth, and creating economic value. Eric Schmidt (former CEO of Google) is an example of a peacetime CEO. 

Maybe a Little of Both

Be careful about labeling yourself a wartime or peacetime leader because many leaders that prefer one label or another will actively create scenarios so that they can practice the type of leadership strategy that most comes naturally to them. 

Wartime leaders will create chaos so that they can become shortsighted and only focus on short-term results. Peacetime leaders can be so focused on building consensus and growth they may unconsciously choose to overlook issues because they what to remain optimistic about their plans.

The best approach is to be open to both ways of leading. A good leader needs to know what kind of challenges their facing and what kind of strategy might be better suited. If peacetime, align key staff to build growth plans. In wartime’s, make sure the right resources are armed and ready to go.