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The Need for Perseverance

The team at Altris are running a workshop on how to create a Coaching Culture at the Strategic Talent and Leadership Development Forum in July. As part of the preparation for the workshop we are in the process of talking to a number of existing and former clients about their learning from coaching culture programmes in which they have been involved.

One consistent theme is the need for perseverance in leaders who are making significant changes such as the introduction of a coaching culture. Almost without exception the leaders we have interviewed have commented on the need to stick with the changes over the long-term if you want to get the business benefits.

Significant changes don’t happen over the course of a few weeks or months. Jim Collins talks about the ‘flywheel effect’ in his book Good to Great, where over a period of time all the little things that you are changing eventually come together and create breakthrough. None of the individual elements on their own will cause the desired level of change to happen.

Collins’ research indicates that it takes around seven years for the significant breakthrough to happen! That doesn’t mean that nothing happens before seven years but it does mean that the full impact of the change will not be felt or fully visible for years after the changes begin.

Despite this, how many leaders and organisations do you hear of who quickly abandon their current change initiative and look for another ‘quick fix’ in the belief that the change isn’t making the difference or (more likely) this isn’t happening at the speed they would like it to.

But change isn’t like that. It takes time for people to understand what’s intended; to buy into the need to change; to understand the new ways of working and to become comfortable with these etc.

Making successful change is a bit like doing a number of things 1% better each day rather than trying to do any one thing 100% better. It’s about evolution rather than revolution.

Chances are that many of the systems and processes that organisations already have are ‘good enough’. What’s missing is the perseverance and ‘stickability’ to make them work properly. Sometimes it seems easier to start a whole new series of changes than to keep working at the initiatives that just need more time and attention to make them really sing.

So the next time you are tempted to throw away something that’s been recently introduced and start again because it’s not working – Stop!

I suggest that first you have a good look to see if a bit more perseverance and focus might actually be all that’s required to make it work! It may not be as sexy and exciting as starting again, but it is also likely to be much less expensive and disruptive.

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