Credibility of the sponsor

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What are you willing to change?

It’s a Tuesday afternoon, and we have our monthly company update. Today is a special one, as we could read in the announcement, but that was all the information we had, so most participants are curious and maybe also slightly nervous.

One of the board members takes the stage: ‘Good afternoon dear colleagues. I will not burden you with any numbers today. We, the board and multiple stakeholders, decided that it is necessary to start a transformation of our organisation. To thrive in the future, we have to shift our hierarchical and complex system into one of self-organisation and distributed leadership. Our aim? An attractive culture of transparency, collaboration, and autonomy. 

We understand this is a bold step and we are aware that this new way of working also expects a new way of thinking from you, behaving and a shift in mindset – the so-called growth mindset. To be able to achieve this we need YOU, transformational leaders, and employees.’

After presenting some numbers which supported their decision, and some next process steps, it was time for taking questions.

Peter, one of the employees, comes forward, ‘You say you need us and that you like to do this transformation together. Why is it than, that I get the feeling that this is not the case at all? Firstly, the choice and process is apparently already completely worked out. Secondly, you keep saying that we, the employees, have to change. But this transformation seems huge, so I have a question for you and your team: ‘What are you willing to change…?’

Bridge the gap between vision and credibility

Once you have your storyline, you have to decide who the messenger will be. This is something we easily forget, or we think too lightly of. We generally say that the best messenger of the aspired future situation is the primary sponsor. This could be the CEO, another board member or someone from the leadership team. A transformation will only be successful when the board – the ultimate sponsor – is fully committed to it. Once they are all committed, they are also the best messengers of the story. You’d think…

But what happens when the sponsor’s behaviour is not in line with the story they want to convey? What if the person on stage was not always that respectful towards others or personally embodies the very hierarchical structure you now want to dismantle?

The messenger’s authenticity and alignment with the message, the purpose you are aiming for, are essential to the success of getting your story across.

Authentic communication brings trust

The story can be crystal clear, but the credibility of the messenger is key. If the person on stage telling the story is not trustworthy, then his or hers message will simply not stick. 

So, what to do? Of course, you can choose someone else to explain the change story. That is probably the easiest way, but maybe not the best way.

If you aspire a company-wide change in mindset, values, and behaviour, which means a change for everyone within the organisation, then consider underneath approaches and explain it as it is:

  • Make the story personal. The more authentic your story is, the more people feel related to it and, in particular, feel a connection with the messenger. 
  • Role model. If the messenger has not been a true role model in the past, then do not hide that. Explain what, why and how they think they have to change themselves to become such a role model.
  • Vulnerability and empathy. These are two words are extremely difficult to show. Leaders are also human, just like you and me. And they are not really that used to show that they don’t know it all. So, it can be pretty scary to admit that. What’s more, a lot of employees expect their leaders to know everything – another result of our old way of thinking.

If you are the messenger, this way of communicating is a great opportunity to show your intention, to do things differently – and that includes changing or improving your own behaviour. So, make it visible for others how you want to close that gap and develop new skills in terms of collaboration and leadership. 

It’s a powerful way to give an answer to questions in the minds of the audience such as: What are you going to change?

I would love to hear your thoughts. How might you, as a catalyst for change, embody authenticity and openness to cultivate a new era of leadership?

Thanks for reading this blog and looking forward to your response! If you think this is of value for others, then please share it with your network. I greatly appreciate that.

I hoop to meet you soon. And don’t hesitate to connect. Additionally, if you have questions leave a comment or feel free to get in touch for a call to discuss how I can further help you on this journey. 

Transforming lives and business for good.

Cheers,

Alize Hofmeester

It’s my purpose to spark the Human X-factor and create purpose driven spaces where everybody is able to grow.

How? Put people & purpose at the heart of your organisation and drive your transformation People Led.

Passionated about living by purpose. Entrepreneur and founder of Twinxter and the TwinxterAcademy, Author of Purpose Driven People, creating business agility & sustainable growth, Co-author of Agile People Principles, Transformational Leadership in the fitness and physical activity sector & Emergence, Creator of the People Journey Circle, Keynote Speaker

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Alize Hofmeester

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