When it comes to driving change, I am consistently blown away by 3 common mistakes leaders make.  I don’t know what it is, but I have seen numerous situations where anyone from a  corporate executive to a small business owner separate themselves from the change initiative they are pushing within their organization.  I am not going to speculate on why, but I think it’s a big mistake.

Here are 3 simple ways you can lead the change you want on your team or in your business.

1. It’s Not You, It’s Me

Great leaders are masters at commanding respect without alienating themselves from their team or the rest of the organization.  This is a huge component when introducing a change initiative.

Include yourself as part of the problem you are trying to resolve with the impending change initiative.  This makes you vulnerable and relatable to everyone else who is being asked to make the change without losing the respect of your people.  In fact, this will not only help you move the needle on the change initiative, but it will endear you to your team.  You will earn even more respect and have more influence when your employees see you are taking responsibility for the problem you are trying to overcome.

2. Earn Buy-In

Notice what I said here….EARN!  Not demand or request, here’s how:  Include your key employees and/or those who will be impacted the most, inasmuch of the change decision and implementation process as possible.  This isn’t always easy when making timely, high impact decisions about your business, but it will pay huge dividends to the overall success of the change you are asking your employees to make.  

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been a part of a corporate-wide initiative or even personally asked to make a change and I was given nothing but the marching orders to execute.  In one case, executives of my company wanted to rollout a huge marketing initiative.  The employees were summoned to an unveiling meeting where a huge production insued.  It was exciting, flashy, entertaining and even had some merit.

My fellow teammates clapped at the end of the presentation and there was the normal fake excitement that corporate grunts offer around executives even though we were confused and concerned about how the initiative would work.  A few of us asked some very pointed questions relating to how we would implement, track and evaluate the success of the new program.  We quickly uncovered some weaknesses in the strategy and areas where our trusty leaders had not completely thought through the plan.  They responded with your typical corporate spin.  Needless to say, they lost us before the program ever got off the ground and of course, the initiative failed miserably.    

All they needed to do to earn our buy-in was to include us in part of the implementation strategy.  I mean, it only makes sense.  Why not get the input of the people who have to execute.  We would have loved the opportunity to be a part of building this incredible program and at the very least, we could have identified some solutions to key areas they missed.

One last thought on this.  You don’t have to spend a ton of time with this.  Including your people and letting them have input does not need to be more than a couple meetings or conversations.  If you are getting great input and results then great, but if the time spent doing this is not productive then take the feedback you have and keep things moving forward.  Just by asking for their feedback and input will be a huge step in the right direction.

3 Be the Leader Your People Want

As the leader of your organization/team you are ultimately responsible for whatever happens.  Successful change is on you, not your people!  I am sick of hearing leaders blame their people who won’t change.  My response is, you might not have the right people or who hired them and trained them and what is being done to hold them accountable?  It’s okay if the change fails, as long as you learn from the experience, take responsibility, and rally the troops onto the next opportunity.  Your organization is your responsibility, take the bull by the horns and drive the change you want!  Your people will love you for taking the blame and leading the way!

When you step up and drive the change you want for your business by including yourself in the problem you are trying to overcome, getting input on what and how to implement the change and accepting responsibility for the results, you will not only see more successful change initiatives but you will be the leader your people want to follow!