Leadership View #5: When Leading Change..

Leadership View #5: When Leading Change..

2013 05-05 SuperHero iStock_000013976003XSmallLeadership View #5:

When leading change – get some early wins –this makes change irresistible to those that resist.  Getting these “early wins” may involve changing priorities or sequencing of events.

How often do we begin an initiative by setting a goal with a date when everything will be complete?

When starting a project we are excited to get “it” done. What if instead we focused on getting small wins and buy-in, how might we approach the project differently?

One of my favorite visible stories of a leader who understood the importance of early wins is The Chicago Wacker Drive Project. Mayor Richard M. Daley began this enormous project, raised the funds for it and hired the team to lead it. It was a massive undertaking. The job required rebuilding both Upper and Lower Wacker, a primary downtown Chicago artery.

What I remember most about this project is it began in early 2001 and was declared “finished” 20 months later in late 2002.  It was declared a success coming in on-time and on-budget. The reality was, only a portion of the Wacker Drive rebuild was completed during this period. Work on Wacker Drive continued for many years and continues today.

Mayor Daley knew he had to get an “early win” and sequence the events so that he could pause and celebrate success. The work that continued for ten years hence followed this same model. Small incremental projects are funded, begun and then completed and celebrated.

Here are my questions for you to consider when you next begin an initiative in your company:

  1. What is the ideal sequencing to get the job done right and on-time?
  2. If my goal is buy-in, what changes might I need to make to get that buy-in?
  3. Am I willing to go slower at the front-end to get to adoption?
  4. Who are the people I can count on to be early adopters and influencers? How do I engage them, so they are willing proselytize our success?
  5. How will I celebrate success?

Elisa K. Spain


45 Year Leadership View #4: A Leader Must Balance…

45 Year Leadership View #4: A Leader Must Balance…

thinker 04 21 13Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #4:

A leader must balance between near-term and long-term leadership and management tasks. 

Hmm.. last week’s leadership view involved balance and here we are with the same subject line again. It does seem that balance is a key challenge for every leader.

Most leaders have a sense of urgency, entrepreneurs especially. Often it is this sense of urgency that got us where we are. And, much like balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of our followers, we must also recognize which of our goals belong in the long term column and which belong as short-term.

And it is certainly a balancing act, because for high urgency leaders, we sometimes move tasks into the now, when they belong in the future. If you are challenged with sorting between short term and long term initiatives, here is a suggested approach to get started.

Begin by capturing all the ideas, tasks and goals. Next ask yourself the following three questions for each item:

  • How much time will it take to get this done?
  • What will be the impact/outcome for the organization when this is done? (people, resources, capital, impact on other initiatives  impact on customers, etc.)
  • What will be the impact/outcome for the organization while we are getting this done? (people, resources, capital, impact on other initiatives  impact on customers, etc.)


Elisa K. Spain


45 Year Leadership View #3: A Leader Must Balance…

45 Year Leadership View #3: A Leader Must Balance…

swansMarsh Carter’s Leadership View #3:

A leader must balance accomplishing the organization’s mission with responsibility to followers.

As Vistage speaker Rick Eigenbrod reminds us, the one thing all leaders have in common, followers. When we forget this is the most important characteristic of leadership, we look around and there is no one behind us. While the mission may be what is driving us as leaders, have we stopped and asked what is driving our followers?

Remembering that all we humans act in our own self-interest, the organization’s mission must resonate and must matter to each and every one of our followers if we are going to get there. It is a delicate balance between being out in front because we have the vision; and inspiring our followers to move forward because they see what is in it for them.

In the best of circumstances, we as leaders inspire and our followers are the ones who accomplish the mission.

My question for you is:

What are you asking today to confirm that your followers understand and are driven to accomplish your mission?


Elisa K. Spain