The Great Navigator

5 May 2016

If you want to drive change, be the navigator.

Unprecedented customer power, the emergence of new technologies and data overload demand that we adapt and change.

In turn change demands that leaders be directive, take risks and communicate frequently.

But in times of fear and uncertainty it takes more than boldness to win.

As a result of watching and listening and often not watching and listening enough, I have come to believe that managing change is as much about navigation as it is about vision. Finely tuned navigation skills are mission critical for today’s change agent.

Here are some common traits of great navigators in times of uncertainty:

1. They understand that people tire quickly of evangelists. They align their own vision to a larger company vision, and they remember that results and feedback mean more than well run workshops.

2. They invest as much time in writing speeches for other people as they do for themselves. If their speeches are hacked they know they are onto something.

3. They feed their sponsor.  Great navigators know that when their sponsor weaves their story into a bigger vision then they are on track.

4. They align the successes of others to their cause. They don't claim ownership for the work of others but they do embrace it and talk about it. And they make the connection to their own vision. By doing that they know that it will make their own vision easier for others to believe.

5. They never stop listening. To what employees across the organisation say about their team and their own leadership style, and about what their customers say about the changes they see or fail to see the business making.

6. They pay attention to the day to day. They know that change is only real when it shows up in the day to day. A process that helps someone to do something faster. A barrier to taking action taken away overnight. The on screen availability of data about customers which makes it easier to start a conversation. That sort of thing.

7. They are patient. They know when to slow down. They know that lasting change requires reflection and time for new ways of working to settle, especially where behaviour patterns and outmoded structures are deeply set.