“People in my organization don’t want to transform. They’re afraid of the digital transformation or don’t see the benefit. How can I inspire them?” That is a question I get asked a lot.
What’s in it for them?
Transformation is hard and we often need either inspiration or desperation to get the energy to transform. Is your current why strong enough for people to be inspired? “We have to.” “Our headquarters tell us to.” “Everyone is doing it.” “We need to save costs.” “It will increase our revenues”—these are all weak whys. Build a strong shared purpose with your team instead, and they will be inspired to transform. The purpose can be different from that of your organization as long as it contributes overall to the organization.
For instance, we had two strong whys during our digital transformation: we wanted to improve the teaching experience to develop students’ talents AND I wanted to prove that we could build a caring and happy organization despite the high short-term pressure on profit coming from my private equity shareholders. Both whys inspired the people in the organization to transform.
Have you created a safe culture?
Transformation is not a linear progression. It’s a bumpy road with many setbacks. In addition, mistakes will be made. Things will rarely go as planned. There will be chaos. If people are afraid to make mistakes, if people are exhausted or if they don’t feel able to cope, they will stay in their comfort zone and resist the change in order to feel safe. As a leader, it is your job to create a safe environment where mistakes are OK as long as we learn from them, where people can rest and increase their energy level and where they can learn the necessary skills. That safe environment will be influenced by your leadership habits, but even more importantly by how you show up under pressure, when your fears take over.
It is easy to be the leader you want to be when everything goes well. It is harder under pressure.
You might think you have created that safe culture, but you may not be aware that as soon as you are under pressure, your old habits take over and you can become directive, frustrated, impatient, or even angry. That unconscious behavior can sabotage your safe culture in a couple of minutes. By managing your fears under pressure, you will find a way to create the safe environment that is necessary to inspire people to transform.
Here are four things you can do to rewire your brain for success and learn the behaviors you want to exhibit when you’re under pressure.
In summary, to inspire people for the digital transformation: build a strong shared purpose and create a safe environment by adopting new leadership habits and better managing your (unconscious) fears under pressure.
If you want to better cope with all the changes coming from our fast-changing digital era, I’m organizing free Masterclasses about this topic. You can follow it by registering here. This Masterclass from Solvay Brussels School has opened the eyes of many leaders and helped them transform themselves and their organizations.