I work as an Enterprise Coach working with large and small organisations to help them build growth platforms. This often involves dealing with Senior Leadership in co-creating a vision for their company and starting them on their journey.
Over the years doing this I have found that there are certain techniques to ensure that the company get the success they want as well as my own personal success in seeing an organisation embrace growth.
I recently watched a film called “The Greatest Showman” which is a great musical film. There was one scene in this film that I really resonated with and for me emphasised the story and success of working with leadership at the beginning of an engagement. So I thought I would break the song down and explain how I see this ties in to what I do.
Right here, right now
I put the offer out
I don’t want to chase you down
I know you see it
This is the first key piece in the journey to engaging senior leadership. It is really important that you invite them to work with you and don’t try to force them on the journey. The most successful growth/transformation initiates are built around volunteers and you want them to be fully invested in the journey.
You run with me
And I can cut you free
Out of the treachery and walls you keep in
Once you have them engaged the next step is to help them understand what they want to get out of the engagement and to make it clear how you can support this. When going through this exercise you will also be able to help them understand how this will impact them and the potential benefits they will see.
So trade that typical for something colourful
And if it’s crazy, live a little crazy
You can play it sensible, a king of conventional
Or you can risk it all and see
At this stage they either want to go on the journey or not. You are essentially asking they to trade what they know today for something that may seem a little crazy and risky to them. It’s important they decide if they want to go on the journey and if they do they understand the risks and see the benefits.
Don’t you wanna get away from the same old part you gotta play
Cause I got what you need
So come with me and take the ride
It’ll take you to the other side
Cause you can do like you do
Or you can do like me
Stay in the cage, or you’ll finally take the key
Oh, damn! Suddenly you’re free to fly
It’ll take you to the other side
Throughout the engagement with the Leadership teams I am basically asking if they want to go on the journey and if so I am there to support them through that process to the other side whatever that may be. Again it’s really important it’s an invitation for them to go on the journey.
Okay, my friend, you want to cut me in
Well I hate to tell you, but it just won’t happen
So thanks, but no
I think I’m good to go
Cause I quite enjoy the life you say I’m trapped in
At this point I have often received the response that certain Leaders simply don’t want to go on the journey. They may be happy with the power they currently have and don’t want to let go of that control. As usually it’s a big shift for Leaders as they are fearful of the change and will provide heavy resistance if pushed, which will cause any initiative to grind to a halt!
Now I admire you, and that whole show you do
You’re onto something, really it’s something
But I live among the swells, and we don’t pick up peanut shells
I’ll have to leave that up to you
There is often a recognition from Leadership that what you are saying makes sense and I can also see from their interactions, body language and vocabulary that they understand the benefits this can bring them. However, I have often met leaders who believe going on this type of journey is beneath them and it would be a step down for them to get involved at the level required to make it successful.
Don’t you know that I’m okay with this uptown part I get to play
Cause I got what I need and I don’t want to take the ride
I don’t need to see the other side
So go and do like you do
I’m good to do like me
Ain’t in a cage, so I don’t need to take the key
Oh, damn! Can’t you see I’m doing fine
I don’t need to see the other side
I have worked with Leadership who simply don’t want to engage in the growth journey and they want to continue doing what they always have. I have not found it a useful endeavour to spend time trying to convince someone and drag them along, as this ultimately slows things down greatly and as soon as my back is turned they slip right back.
Now is this really how you like to spend your days?
Whiskey and misery, and parties and plays
Here I would try and get the time to walk them through a Systems Thinking exercise where we start to fully understand what they do and the implications that has on the overall system. This can often open their eyes and challenges the preconceptions they had about the impact of the decision they are making.
If I were mixed up with you, I’d be the talk of the town
Disgraced and disowned, another one of the clowns
At the Leadership level in most organisations the people in those positions are driven by their stature and how they appear to the rest of the organisation, to get involved in helping, understanding and coaching people can be too much for their ego’s to take.
But you would finally live a little, finally laugh a little
Just let me give you the freedom to dream and it’ll
Wake you up and cure your aching
Take your walls and start ’em breaking
Now that’s a deal that seems worth taking
But I guess I’ll leave that up to you
At this stage if they seem like they are at a tipping point it’s good to go through the benefits of going on this journey to them, this way they can hopefully resonate with what you are saying and understand the impact it will have on their life. Then you leave the choice up to them, the idea is to have volunteers to go on the journey.
Well it’s intriguing, but to go would cost me greatly
So what percentage of the show would I be taking?
Fantastic, at this point they are excited about going on the journey and you can discuss their involvement and map out what that journey would look like and what successes they should expect to see along the way.
Fair enough, you’d want a piece of all the action
I’d give you seven, we could shake and make it happen
I wasn’t born this morning, eighteen would be just fine
Why not just go ahead and ask for nickels on the dime
I’d do eight
Remember it’s about co-creating something with Leadership and this often involves compromises and negotiation. At the end of this you should both have a shared understanding of what the journey looks like and the support required to complete it successfully.
If you can get to this point and leadership have accepted your invitation, you have co-created a Vision, mapped out the journey and have shared understanding of what is expected then celebrate as this is a huge step.
I have boiled what I have talked about into 3 principles as shown below:
Finally, I would like to note that what I have stated above does not apply to every Leader of course however I have seen commonalities in leadership behaviour and mindset over the years. I hope you all enjoyed reading this and please share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂