The Change Masters: How to Lead and Succeed in a Volatile Global Marketplace
The Future Leaders
Welcome to The Change Masters program, designed to prepare you for any business or personal challenge you may face today and tomorrow. This program is a wake-up call to individual and team leadership. Each of us must be willing to stand out while fitting into our organizations and society. We must be team leaders, not just team members. We can no longer say: “Why don’t they do something?” We must say, instead: “Here’s what I am doing to solve the problem, by thinking globally and acting locally.”
We live in a fast forward world with more changes in a one of our days than in a decade or more of our grandparents’ lives. You and your neighbors are at the center of what is being transformed into the greatest economic and geopolitical power base for the foreseeable future. This metamorphosis is one of the most awesome examples of human ingenuity and perseverance in recorded history. You have both the opportunity and responsibility to create a harvest of abundance and fulfillment for your families and generations to follow. It is up to you.
There’s a Chinese fable about a wise man who lived outside a large village. Every Saturday he
would come into the main square and the villagers would surround him to be healed or to gain
words of wisdom, which the wise man had been doing for years. There also lived nearby, a
young, self-centered man who was jealous of the wise one and resented his popularity. The
young man had a plan to embarrass the wise man. His scheme was to come into the village
square with a dove tucked inside his hands and ask the old man if he knew what was in his
hands. If the old man guessed correctly, he would ask another question, “Is the dove alive or
dead.” If the wise one said it was alive the young man would push his hands together and break
the dove’s neck. If the wise man said it was dead he would simply open his hands and allow the
dove to fly into the sky. In either case, he would prove the old man wrong.
So with his plan in place, the young man set off toward the village square in the mid afternoon at
the busiest time of day. As he approached the old man, the wise one was busy helping people
with different problems and offering words of wisdom. The young man confronted the wise one
and speaking loudly, so everyone could hear, he said: “Hey, old man, I have a question for you.”
The wise man turned and smiled: “Yes, of course, what is it? The crowd – sensing something of
a showdown – moved in closer. The young man continued: “My question to you is what do I
hold in my hands?” The wise one smiled and said, “ Well that’s easy. You have a beautiful dove
in your hands.” The young man chuckled, “Well, can you tell me if it is dead or alive? The wise
man paused, reflected, yet hesitated to answer.
The young man – relishing his apparent checkmate, retorted: “ Well old man, you seem to be at a loss for words.” The villagers were silent with anticipation , as tension filled the hot afternoon air. The young man, sensing victory, shouted: “For years & years you’ve had an answer for everything! What about now old man? What about now?”
With this last statement the wise man gave his trademark smile and replied in his steady, friendly manner: “Young man, the fate of that lovely dove is in your hands.”
So it is with change in your life, it’s up to you. There are only two choices facing leaders today and in the future: You must become Change Masters or become obsolete as Change Victims. Today, in the knowledge-based world, where change is the rule, a set of personal strategies is essential to success, even survival. Never again will you be able to go to your place of business on autopilot, comfortable and secure that the organization will provide for and look after you.
In order to gain the respect of others, we must first earn it. We must be respectable. In order to be a role model, we must first set a positive example. In order to lead others, we must first lead ourselves. You must look in the mirror when you ask who is responsible for your success or failure. You must become a lifelong learner and leader, for to be a follower is to fall hopelessly behind the pace of progress.
What worked yesterday won’t work today. Why?
Yesterday natural resources defined power. Today knowledge is power.
Yesterday leaders commanded and controlled. Today leaders empower and coach.
Yesterday leaders demanded respect. Today leaders earn respect and encourage self-respect.
Yesterday employees took orders. Today teams make decisions.
Yesterday value was extra. Today value is everything.
Yesterday profits were earned through expediency. Today profits are earned with integrity.
The culture of the national and multi-national corporation is changing dramatically. Companies that cling to the old ways and attitudes are doomed to extinction.
Old Corporate Culture
Maximum short-term return on invested capital for shareholders
Replaceable employees, expedient methods
Environmental waste, aging factories, assembly-line production
Central line authority, manage one-on-one
New Corporate Culture (Change Masters)
Meet ever-increasing customer demands
Rapidly changing world markets
Highest quality products and services
Educated, dedicated, skilled, performance-compensated teams who transmit their core excellence and value in their contribution
Maximum long-term return on invested capital for shareholders
As employees, which most of us are, we have but two choices today: to be a team leader of a winning team or face being replaced. Employers also have two choices: empower the few who will be their new team leaders, or see their top producers exercise their free-agent rights and join another team that does have the vision, culture, synergy, and leadership to win. A team, in short, that has embraced the new culture.
The New Employee Model
Autonomy and empowerment–minimal supervision, maximum training
Meaningful work—environmentally safe with a mission to help society
Career path–opportunity to grow and move up the ladder
Incentives and compensation based on performance standards
Team leader–able to be a standout while remaining a team player
Most of us believed that the computer would give us more time for leisure and personal pursuits. More significantly, however, the computer has brought us competition from everywhere in the world, competition of a global order. Factories in America and Europe are rusting as foreign competitors dominate one industry after another, from machine tools to motorcycles, from consumer electronics to steel. The eventual outcome of this global economic restructuring is anything but clear. What is clear is the force behind the competition: the inexorable yearning of people throughout the world to improve their own standard of living. They too want a seat at the banquet table–together with cars, vacations, and comfortable, well-equipped condominiums, apartments and houses.
Consider the computer’s impact. Designed as a tool for managing complexity, it also adds complexity, just as new freeways add more traffic. The computer enables us to sort, store, and retrieve material with ever-increasing speed. But the faster data can be analyzed, the faster decisions can be expected and the greater the pressure to reach them. And the computer’s efficiency is hardly lost on our competitors. They install, program, and use them to produce goods and services of the same quality as ours–and for less money.
Thus the competitive edge will belong not to those who use computers but to those who know how to inspire more productivity and excellence from each individual. We are well into a new century of unprecedented human growth and development. We must reexamine and reevaluate the way we think, the way we respond to life’s daily challenges in what will be a time of even more astonishing change. The new leaders in these new decades will welcome change rather than try to resist it. They will have learned how to make change work for them rather than against them. And they will have developed unique strategies and skills that enable them to create opportunities from challenges. The new leaders actually benefit from change–some of which they create themselves. Like surfers, they ride the waves, using their power to take them where they want to go. Rather than trying to resist change, they seek harmony with it. In response to rapid change, the new change masters introduce it in the form of new methods that increase effectiveness and efficiency, create new products and new services, lower costs, and encourage ideas to enhance productivity. They learn how, why, and where things are changing so they can exploit the possibilities. Instead of fighting for market share, they create new markets. They respond to global competition by determining what they are best at, then doing it.
“Knowledge portability” is a term you’ll hear often in the future. It’s shorthand for saying that the geographic boundaries to knowledge have been erased. The computer and telecommunications— smart phones and tablets.–have made possible instant information access throughout the world. Therefore, anything of high quality can be made anywhere. Companies are restructuring, relocating, and reengineering to eliminate their own boundaries and hierarchies. So too must in- dividuals reinvent themselves in order to adapt to a fast-forward world in which Shanghai is only seconds in communications from New York, and Washington is no farther from Beijing. One CEO put this bluntly: “Unless we manage change, we’re going to change management.”
Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, advised us that: “to know others takes intelligence. But to know myself takes wisdom.” We all yearn to shape our own lives, fashion our own destinies. But most of us find ourselves in the same dilemma from our teens onward. How do we really want to spend our days? What choices should we make? What can we do that will fill our lives with meaning and bring us the adventure and rewards we seek? How do we know we’ve chosen the right career and the proper goals? Who should be our role models now?
The acquisition of knowledge is a lifelong experience, not a collection of facts or skills. Not long ago, what you learned in school was largely all you needed to learn; you could rely on that knowledge for the rest of your life. With knowledge expanding exponentially, this is no longer true. Hundreds of scientific papers are published daily. Every thirty seconds, some new technological company produces yet another innovation. Your formal education has a very short shelf life. Thus lifelong learning means far more than formal classroom knowledge. In a world in which working with people is essential, it also means deepening your understanding of yourself and others. A shared belief emerged from a recent round-table discussion among a group of innovative multi-national business leaders. All the leaders, while innovating in their business lives, were doing the same in other spheres of their lives. They agreed that their subordinates’ executive growth depended on personal growth, and that those who believed they had completed their education were on a fast track to personal obsolescence. Lifelong learning, once a luxury for the few, has become absolutely vital to continued success.
But while there are dangers in trying to become a leader without thoroughly knowing your field, there are also dangers in thinking of yourself as an expert–especially the danger of losing your sense of wonder Leaders who continue learning throughout their lives never forget they always have more to learn. Although their knowledge and experience may have made them teachers, they continue to think of themselves as students.
Although change is the rule, you must not let change be your ruler. You must tap into the knowledge and experience of everyone in your organization. Some of the youngest and lowest paid employees have ideas that can increase the efficiency and effective of your enterprise. Some of the older veterans who are seldom called upon to voice their opinions on productivity have experienced virtually every type of business challenge at some point in their careers. By challenging your own assumptions and being open to ideas and suggestions available from a variety of human resources within your sphere of influence, you will join the ranks of the successful leaders who will own the future.
This program will be your guide to help you develop a strategy for leadership to advance you to your profession’s cutting edge. It will help you learn to avoid repeating old mistakes. It will enable you to rid yourself of obsolete thinking that stifles your creativity and help you unleash your true potential. Most of all, it will help you empower yourself and those who look to you for leadership to be inspired to embrace excellence as authentic Change Masters.