Leading the Change

I noticed that this week I seem to have encountered Stanley McChrystal’s TED talk everywhere. While his stories are given in the context of the military, I think his messages about what it takes to be a good leader are perfect for every change sponsor:

  1. Leaders are strong and wise and brave and faithful and don’t lie or cheat or steal; nor do they abandon their team.
  2. The world has changed – often the people you are leading don’t look like you nor are they located in your geographical area – thus a new type of leadership is required.
    • This leadership requires trust in your team and for you to build their faith in you to lead them even if you never see them in person.
  3. When you make mistakes, you have to be able to rebuild trust and confidence through virtual media.
    • This means acting with humility and transparency, while also being willing to learn from your employees, e.g. let them lead you.
  4. “A leader is a leader because they are willing to learn and to trust.. this isn’t easy or always fair.”
    • When you are sponsoring a change, not everything will go right; there will be missteps in terms of how you need to effect the change in your organization.
    • How you handle the mistakes differentiates a true leader from a sponsor in title only.

How you exemplify (1) trust in your change team, (2) faith in the need for the change, and (3) willingness to humbly accept that some plans will not turn out as originally intended (but to keep championing the change anyway) will determine whether you have what it takes to be a true sponsor.


About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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