Want Big Change?

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Some of my earliest leadership lessons happened on the volleyball court. I learned the importance of giving and receiving real-time feedback. I learned the importance of a team’s trust and camaraderie. Most importantly, I learned how to identify and fix my mistakes rather than focus on my teammates’ errors.

Stop Blaming Others

Like most team sports, volleyball is highly interdependent. A bad pass can throw off an entire offense. A tight set can force a hitter into the net. In the early years of volleyball, perfect passes and flawless sets are rare.

One practice our team was frustrated with each other. The setters were frustrated with the crappy passes, the hitters were frustrated with the crappy sets, and our coach was frustrated with our crappy attitudes. Coach stopped practice and shared one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

She said, “Finger pointing and blaming your teammates is not acceptable. Anytime you point your finger at someone else, you’ve got three fingers pointing right back at you.”

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

This lesson has transcended from the volleyball court to all parts of my life. This mantra particularly helped me focus on what I could control when leading teams through transition.

I’ve led teams through a myriad of changes. Regardless of the initiative and its purpose, I have found one constant with people and change:

People love change, unless they are asked to change.

Focus On What You Can Control

Several years ago I started to oversee a hospital outpatient department. We had a VERY slow check-in process and all teams wanted to change it. However, when I interviewed the team for improvement ideas, most of them communicated problems with other team’s processes. Rarely would I get a manager, lead, or staff member who would focus on what he or she needed to do differently.

IT: “Registration isn’t using the software correctly.”

Clinical Departments: “Registration doesn’t tell us when patients are ready.”

Registration: “The software doesn’t work, so we have to do workarounds which take more time. Also, the departments are constantly interrupting us, so if they could just figure things out on their own, we’d be able to check in patients faster.”

Actually they were all correct, yet their focus was to change others, not themselves. In other words, finger-pointing. And finger-pointing relinquishes control.

No Control = No Accountability = No Change = Status Quo

Destroy The Status Quo

Whether you are learning to jump set a tight pass or sequencing your check-in procedure, you possess the ability to own and improve your piece of the process.

If you want to change, you must destroy the status quo. In order to destroy the status quo, you must own your part in it.

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

I’m passionate about personal and professional leadership. I write about lessons learned from managing teams (and myself) for 20+ years.

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