“Change is Good, You Go First”

“Change is Good, You Go First…so goes an old Dilbert Cartoon. So, just how do we “go first?”  The essence of being a manager has been eloquently summed up by  Former Porsche CEO  and longtime Vistage Speaker Peter Schutz  who reminds the Vistage groups he visits  that  “Managers are unnecessary, until something changes.”  Things can always be counted on to change but people seem genetically programmed to resist doing anything about it; including CEOs who have a tendency to be human themselves.

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What do we do about it?  Another Vistage Speaker, Andrea Simon, examines Why We’re so Afraid of Change, in a recent Forbes article. She offers some handy tips and practical tools that CEOs and Senior Executives can use to get everyone on offense instead of defense. If you want the organization to change, you need to start with yourself.  Don’t just demand that your people come up with new ideas—broaden your perspective by getting out of your box—a.k.a. your office. Since a lot of innovation comes from outside your industry, don’t just go to your industry trade show, go to other industry trade shows.  Or join a CEO Peer Group with successful executives from multiple industries.

Another idea is to visit not only your current customers, but people who you would like to have as your customer.  Leverage your CEO title to meet with CEOs and other senior leader’s in those companies. One of my most successful Vistage group members totally transformed her business by having several meetings with big potential customers to ask them about their unmet needs and problems that they were having with all of their suppliers that if changed, would transform their business.  She listened and dramatically changed the way they do business, which in three years transformed them from being at the bottom of the pack to the leading supplier of her type in her market.

“Going first” when it comes to managing change is one of your most important jobs as a CEO.

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