Dr. Relly Nadler: One of the key things for leaders is how do you deal with change given that there is so much change going on in most organizations. Some of the questions we’ll look at are:
- What makes a successful change initiative?
- What are examples in corporate America of a failed change initiative?
- What steps can leaders take to lead change successfully?
- How do leaders champion change?
- Do women lead change differently than men do?
- How can women leverage their competitive advantage?
Today, our guest is going to be Dr. Tammy Wong. She is founder and CEO of Fostering Executive Leadership. She is an author, an executive coach, and a speaker. She has over 25 years of experience as an executive in corporate America for Sun Microsystems and Xerox Corporation. She has had senior leadership roles in sales, marketing, strategic planning and has been involved in many corporate change initiatives. Tammy wrote the book called The Hour Glass Effect: Leveraging Your Female Talent for Your Competitive Advantage. We’ll get a chance to hear about that.
Dr. Relly Nadler: I’m doing great; it’s very good to have you on the call. You and I have been talking about this for a while so I’m glad to have you on. Give us a little bit of background regarding your working in corporate leadership just to get an idea. Then we’ll zero in on some of your experience around change initiatives.
Dr. Tammy Wong: I’ve worked for over 28 years as an executive primarily in technology companies such as IBM, Xerox and Sun Microsystems in roles that covered sales, marketing and strategy. Within those roles, I did handle a lot of change initiatives and I’d love to share with you what worked and what didn’t.
Dr. Relly Nadler: That’s perfect. That’s exactly what we want to hear about. Let’s start off a little bit more general and then we’ll get specific around these key components. Why do you think, just in general, emotional intelligence is so important in leading change?
Dr. Tammy Wong: What is very interesting is some of the things on emotional intelligence are very key. I actually took the six pieces from your own book and actually put change initiatives around that. What I believe is because emotional intelligence can be learned just as leadership can be learned; the two combined will result in really a positive change initiative. Typically change is brought on when something is not working or the company would like to expand its reach in the community, to really make an effect.
The six items I really looked at were:
- Time Management
Each one of those I can share with the team here that is listening, a little bit about how I feel that those will effect change.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Good. So these are the critical factors that you have found in delineating emotional intelligence that really is going to help some of our listeners move forward? That’s good. Why don’t we start off from the top and you can expand on those?
Dr. Tammy Wong: Okay, so the first one is Motivation. Really the motivation for change is leaders will look at why create something new or expand on our current concepts or strategies. That is typically the first one. What is the motivation to change? Typically something is not working or they would like to expand or grow in an area.
The next one is communication. How are you going to communicate to an organization or group what is going on and how can it support the change? How do we influence others who may have not had direct contact with the change but need to have an understanding and knowledge of that change?
Dr. Relly Nadler: Let me just underline that one because I think that one is really challenging especially like you said, people who may not be directly involved but may be on the outside, kind of tertiary, kind of linking it in for them. So that’s a good one.
Dr. Tammy Wong: The third one is rewards. Many companies typically, you know, what have you done for me lately, especially within the revenue area. I really look at what will be the reward at the end of the change. The question I always ask is, if we don’t change how will this affect us?
Dr. Relly Nadler: Okay, that’s a good one.
Dr. Tammy Wong: The fourth one is accountability—really following through with the change. It’s a bit like coaching. In my coaching practice I always create a written 180 day business plan which covers six months with a client or company. This is all about the strategies of change to have a vision with a timeline and being able to see what it’s going to look like, one, three or even five years out. Then implementing that change through a written document.
One of the things that I’ve found through my strategy experiences is strategy is actually much easier than implementing change. You might have a great vision but really, actually implementing it through written documents and tactical items is important. So, within any kind of change you need both strategy and tactical items.
Dr. Relly Nadler: Is there anything more you want to say about accountability?
Dr. Tammy Wong: Sure, the accountability piece—we talked a little bit about a timeline and really having a strategy from one, three, or five years out, and really having that documented. Many of our listeners may have thought of certain goals or dreams that they would like to achieve, and really without a written plan, in many cases, they are hard to track and equally hard to remember.
So the fifth item here is quality. The quality of change really relates back to thought processes that they use in pursuing that goal. Have you received buy-in from the team? Have you heard the concerns? What are the positives of this change? What are the areas of opportunity that we might see if we proceed?
Quality can also use a process for building a change initiative from the initial concept, planning a change, integrating a change, launching and executing the change. I’ll talk a little bit more about that and what makes a successful change initiative.
The last piece is time management around the change. What is the timeline? Who needs to be included within that timeline? How much time are they willing to give in support of this change initiative to create this change for the organization or team?
Listen to the entire interview above.