The Heart of Change Kotter & Cohen

I love this book for so many reasons. Change can be challenging because sustainable behavioral change in our people. In practice this is rarely easy, nor is there a simple formula that will lead to success.

One of the key elements of this book is the focus on successful behavior change through speaking to people’s feelings. Through influencing feelings we are able to alter behavior sufficiently to overcome barriers to change.

The 8 step central framework around change includes;

  1. Create a sense of urgency amongst in everyone
  2. Recruit a guiding team to lead and promote the change (more is better)
  3. Get the vision right!
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate – simply and consistently
  5. Empower people to act and move forward – remove the barriers
  6. Tick off a few quick wins
  7. Don’t let up – continuous improvement
  8. Make change stick – support through culture

Motivation is not a thinking word, it is a feeling word.

To connect people with this Kotter talks of a 3 step process – See Feel Change – consistently throughout the book. This is a stark comparison to an often common and alternate view of  – analysis think change – a more conscious process that many leaders use however most of the time is less effective.

Solutions such as videos of customers or processes, secondments to clients to gain a different perspective and visual representations of challenges are used to allow people to really see and subsequently feel, as objectively as possible, the need for change.


3 Signs of a Miserable Job   Patrick Lencioni

This book tells us how with the right management style, one can turn a company around.  He tackles the most common question on why so many people are unhappy at work and the lack of job fulfillment as more and more struggle in the modern workforce. This issue is captured by Lencioni as he writes that “more people out there are miserable in their jobs than fulfilled by them”

Low job fulfillment and job dissatisfaction takes a significant toll on both the employees and company. People don’t just go to work merely to get paid or perform their job responsibilities. They go because they also want to get a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment and satisfaction.  If people are miserable in their jobs it generates a ripple effect onto the rest of the company and one’s life.

Lencioni identifies three forces that make a job miserable: anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement

Anonymity – feeling that their manager has little interest in them as a human being. They know little about their lives, interests and aspirations.

Irrelevance – is when employees do not see how their job makes a difference in the lives of others.

       Immeasurement – its when employees are unable to assess their contribution to the company or success.

       Its good to know that all three can be fixed with the right technique and proper management. His fictional character in the book Mr. Bailey did just that. He started getting to know his workers  inside and out, came up with ways of measuring work accomplishment.  The direct manager is the most important factor to employee satisfaction. If job fulfillment can be addressed effectively, the benefits to the employees will spill over throughout the organization and all other aspects of society.

       He reinforces important lessons all managers should know about getting the best from the people who work for them by

       Providing empathy – take a genuine interest in your people

       Recognize the meaning of their work and its impact on others

       Help establish creative ways to measure and assess their performance

 “It spotlights a clear axiom: Treat people humanely and they will do as you wish – a valuable lesson for any manager or, indeed, anyone at all.”

Quiet Leadership  David Rock

This book was written for leaders who want to get more from their people. It offers valuable insight to help develop excellent leadership and coaching skills in the workplace. David Rock suggests that any individual in a managerial role  or involved in people management  should not be looking to give people answers or solutions. But he/she should  “guide” and “steer” people to think more deeply and come up with their own ideas on what should be done.  Quiet leaders tend to work more invisibly and behind-the-scenes, working on creating a climate in which the people being led evolve their own strategies and ways of going forward.

The author provided coaching techniques and showed coaching models using a step-by-step approach. Many of the tools are based on getting people to think and not act straight away. Quiet Leadership has six core skills to follow namely;

1.     Think about thinking – This means leaving people to decide on their own. Avoid telling people what to do. He suggests that when leaders invest time in improving others’ thinking it is one of the fastest ways to improve performance.

2.     Ask Questions & Listen – This means holding back on presenting a view of what should be done and instead keep asking questions

3.     Speak with intentThis means that in the modern workplace it is now  more conducive to a more reserved leadership style.  The style that is less aggressive, and commanding, but instead has a calm intent and allows lots of input.

4.     Dance toward insight – He suggests that while great leaders are often times expected to come up with big ideas about what should be done, the best insights usually take time and questions from the team should also be considered. Hence, “dance” or move towards a partnership between leader and everyone in the team.

5.     Create new thinking by exploring and tapping everyone’s inner energy.

6.     Follow Up using Feeling model ( Facts, Emotions, Encouragement, Learning, Implications and New Goals.) – The author suggests the leaders: think first and talk later. They consider what others have to say, then reflect and then respond;

Quiet leadership suggests an alternative view in which leaders are more behind-the-scenes, asks more questions and pull-oriented approach.  As a result a leader who asks more questions, get better possible answers or future courses of action and release greater energy and overall contribution from team members.