Much of my work is focused on helping organisations and individuals make changes that will lead to great performance. I’m often asked what is the key to successful change, and my perspective is that success is determined by how much the changes is desired by the individual or the leaders in the case of organisational change. That presents some challenges for organisations where leaders can find it difficult to bring to life how important the change is to them. With so many things competing for attention how can leaders ensure that the change remains at the forefront of everyone’s mind?
A recent blog by Kare Anderson, What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life, gives us some ideas on how we can get that focus of attention. Kare was asked to carry out some research by Disney World to look at what was catching the attention of toddlers and infants when they visited the theme park. The results were surprising; it wasn’t Mickey and Minnie, who were the objects of their focus, instead it was their parents’ cellphones. The children noticed and understood what grabbed their parents’ attention and they wanted it too. People in organisations follow the focus of their leaders’ attention in the same way and want some of that too.
So what does that mean for successful change? Leaders must focus attention on the desired change and use every opportunity and conversation to direct their attention and that of others to it. For some leaders, this is a little counter intuitive as they prefer to set the direction, build a team to deliver, and then shift their focus to the next challenge. The risk of course is that everyone’s attention shifts with theirs. If you think of your leadership attention as the headlights on a car, what direction are you illuminating?