How Leaders Execute Change Well: Podcast #51

Today I’m excited to share with you a conversation with Andrew McPeak. Andrew is a next gen researcher, speaker, and writer for Growing Leaders. He also is the coauthor of our newest book, Marching Off the Map. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

Tim Elmore: Our topic for the day is change. How do we manage change and handle change when it’s coming so fast at us, or sometimes from us?

Andrew McPeak: Yes, that is something we think a lot about because change is a regular part of life—especially when you work with the next generation. One of the things that I find to be true is that when we try to institute something we think is going to be a really positive change, but then we realize that everyone around us sees it as a negative change. Another kind of change is when something shifts out from underneath you, and all of a sudden you have to deal with a new reality. How are we going to be ready for the changes we face?

Tim: You’re right, sometimes we deal with change that is mostly going to be imposed from someone else. We’ve all had change forced on us—changes that were frustrating because we weren’t ready for them. So, today we want to talk about how we make changes well. How do we “do change” with a positive outcome—whether we’re on the receiving end or the giving end?

Andrew: That’s great. How can we influence people as we’re working towards change?

Tim: Okay. Step one: If you’re the person with this new great idea, you need to “Summarize Your Ideas” or collect your thoughts. You don’t want to go to somebody with an idea of change, while you’re still kind of fuzzy about how to execute it. You should be able to clearly summarize the improvement you’d like to make, and how you plan to resolve the pain.

Step two: “Scout out the Land.” So, now you’ve got your list of ideas. Before broaching the subject of making changes, begin meeting with your supervisor—asking if they feel the same pain. Acquire what they believe could be done about it. You may want to set up a breakfast or grab a cup of coffee in order to see where they are on the spectrum. You might ask, “Are you seeing this too?” This kind of relationship cultivation is vital. One of the phrases we’ve used for years is, “We’ve got to build bridges of relationships that can bear the weight of truth.”

Andrew: That feels like one of the number one principles of leadership in general, but especially if you’re going to make a change—you have to earn that right. Alright, so let’s keep moving. Tell us about step three.


Tim: Yeah, this is so important. Step three: “Shoot Bullets Before Cannonballs.” Now, I’m talking about figures of speech here. Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, talked to us about this idea when trying anything new. Early American militia first shot bullets to discover exactly where the target was that they were trying to hit. Once they hit it with bullets, a less expensive type of ammunition, then they would shoot the cannonball, which cost a lot more money. Start small at first, and try things out in a pilot or beta sort of way.

Andrew: It sounds so simple, but I think this is an inspired idea if we’ll practice it. Okay, now tell us about step four: “Show and Tell.”

Tim: “Show and Tell” is a really big step because each of us as human beings can only be so convincing with our words. Here’s what I mean by “Show and Tell.” Let others not only see the data, but observe the change in action. For instance, invite your supervisor into your work setting to observe your new methods or changes. I’ve learned that while good data is intellectually convincing, personally observing a change convinces the heart.

The fifth step we are going to cover is “Secure a Critical Mass.” You know this principle intuitively, but I think we forget it when our passion is to make change fast. Keep in mind that most significant changes happen over time, not overnight. By this, I mean you should increase the percentage of people in your organization/school that buy into the idea you are proposing until you have a large enough ratio to gain traction with the majority. Critical mass is not a specific percent, but it’s got to be enough for this change to be considered and talked about in your organization.

Andrew: I love that. When we think about change we sometimes let the urgency of the need for change overwhelm us, but what you are talking about is the absolute best practical way to approach this strategically.

I hope you take time during your commute to listen to the whole conversation. Click below to listen to the full discussion.

Order Now: Marching Off the Map
Inspire Students to Navigate a Brand New World

Our new book is now available! Leading today’s students often feels like being in a new country with old maps that don’t work. Understanding and connecting with the generation in this land is often times frustrating and draining. We need new strategies on how to march off our old maps and create new ones.

From decades of research and hands-on experience, Dr. Tim Elmore and Andrew McPeak collate their conclusions into one resource that helps adults:

  • Inspire students to own their education and their future
  • Lead students from an attitude of apathy to one of passion through metacognition
  • Enable students to push back from the constant digital distractions and practice mindfulness
  • Raise kids who make healthy progress, both emotionally and mentally, through their teenage years
  • Give students the tools to handle the complexities of an ever-changing world
  • Understand and practically apply the latest research on Generation Z

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How Leaders Execute Change Well: Podcast #51