I always say making transformation stick comes down to one simple 3-part formula: Create a culture of belonging + activate your purpose + build a strategy for impact. Then watch your transformation take hold and high performance kick in.
That’s it. Magic every time.
I know from experience that there is nothing more powerful than for a company to unlock its collective talent and then unleash it in service of a bold ambition bigger than any one single person can do on their own.
When it comes to transformation, your single job as a leader is to lead your teams into the unknown.
Here’s what it looks like in practice:
Create a culture of belonging
Organizations that design work where teams feel that they are known, seen, and matter are workplaces where you’ll find a culture of belonging. It will be where people show up as themselves, fully and authentically. Teams are diverse in all ways that you can measure. Leaders will have created environments that are built on responsibility, accountability, trust, transparency and psychological safety towards a collective ambition to succeed. This fuels intellectual bravery for the team—all ideas, innovations, and new ways of doing anything are offered up freely and welcomed openly to be considered and debated. There are agreed to rules of engagement based on respect and being a team doing big things together that everyone upholds. There is also a standard of high performance that everyone is expected to meet.
If belonging means showing up fully and being celebrated for it, activating purpose means unleashing that potential to bring alive the organization's reason for being. When that purpose is activated in a company, you’ll see teams asking how they can contribute to a bigger picture, question strategy moves, and harness resources to make impact deeper and happen faster. They’ll work with uncommon partners inside and outside the organization to get to greater impact. In purpose-activated companies, collaboration wins over competition. It’s a unifying approach for teams. Creating impact together in service of the company’s purpose is the win here for everyone.
Build a strategy for impact
When a team’s potential is unlocked and unleashed around a company’s “why?”, teams need a “how” and a “when”. Teams that build great transformation strategy focus on impact: what impact will we create if our transformation strategy is successful? What will that look like and feel like to the team, our customers, shareholders, etc? Impact precedes priorities, initiatives, and plans. They then work backwards from that impact and ask “how long do we have?” not “how long will it take?” Time is seen as finite and urgent and plans are set accordingly. Reporting on successes and misses are timely, widely shared, and transparent. Decisions to rejig the plan are made quickly and tactical plans are executed quickly. The cycle is repeated over and over again until the strategy is executed.
No matter where you are in your transformation journey, the formula holds true. During times of change, your job as a leader is to lead your teams into the unknown. You’ll be 100x more successful when your team feels a sense of belonging, that they’re working towards a higher purpose that is much bigger than themselves and they’re doing it with both impact and urgency in mind. Seeing that outcome in action is magic and worth the effort. It really pays out big dividends.
Lâle Kesebi is Founder & CEO of Human at Work, a strategy lab helping organizations in transition and leaders driving change make their transformation stick. Lâle is a sought after strategist, advisor, and speaker. She advises CEOs and organizations globally on how to create high performance organizations. If you’d like to learn about what goes into creating a culture of belonging and how you can rally around purpose to get to performance, reach out to Lâle and she’ll share how we do it. www.human-at.work.