This week, I spent a lot of time with a group of sales leaders for a large industrial manufacturing firm. In the context of a large digitalisation initiative we discussed the role and specific tasks for leaders to drive and motivate sustainable change

In this post I want to share the essence of the discussion with one of the Senior Leaders in the aftermath of group work with the team.

We discussed using the model below, which is based on Simon Sinek’s hierarchy of Why, How and What, when it comes to leadership:

Leadership hierarchy model
A model based on Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why”

With this model I tried to visualise, where and how leaders “take action”, when it comes to driving change.

Keep your hands away from the “what”

If you have hired the right people, and if you have managed to put them in the right role, your job is done. If you have to tell people what they are supposed to do, you have got the wrong people on board.

The “operational” level of “how”

Providing guidance for operational work through processes, frameworks or templates still is managerial. Even though some people might be asking for clear instruction and guidance for how they are supposed to apply their skills, I don’t perceive this particular element as “leadership”.

To motivate people and make them believe in the value of applying the standards, might be a leadership aspect of this part of “how”.

The “leadership” level of “how”

This is where real change kicks in. To motivate change and lead by example when it comes to fundamental change for i.e. the ways of working, is what is expected from leaders.

Thinking with the recipient in mind, turning personal experience into corporate knowledge or adopting new digital opportunities isn’t something that can be ordered. It is where leadership meets operations, because leaders will have to show the same attitude and act as a role model.

This applies to ways of working, not giving up on adapting new technologies as well as helping others to feel comfortable in the new world. There is no reason, why a SVP shouldn’t be the key user of a new collaboration environment.

Excellent leadership in this level will have the effect of empowerment. People will be equipped with the right mindset to put their competence and abilities to full play.

The purpose level of “Why”

Well…I’ll let Simon Sinek pick this one up. This entire post is inspired by his TED talk anyway…

Simon Sinek at TEDx: Start with Why (Source: YouTube)

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