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“Tyranny of Incrementalism will kill organizations.”

—Mike Rawlings, Mayor of Dallas

Most organizations and leaders resort to incremental change. Instead of following through with all the deliberate practices required of an intimate leader in order to implement full and sustainable change, too many simply:

  1. Make modest adjustments that will maintain the status quo under the same overall patterns
  2. Do not question the fundamental assumptions on which management is based
  3. Do not change any of the key elements of the company’s behavior
  4. Implement a variation of a given system which itself remains unchanged
  5. Implement change that permits the organization to carry on its present policies
  6. Implement change that permits the organization to play the same political games
  7. Do more of the same, just better and faster
  8. Tinker with one simplistic dimension or another
  9. Hold onto old perceptions, attitudes and behaviors

How to break the mold of mediocrity that keeps some leaders stuck

Be a supporter of courageous action. When you willingly and adventurously display courage, those around you will follow your lead. That′s why it′s so important to instill in others the value of sticking their necks out, trying the untried, and doing the unthinkable. When they come through with courage and creativity, it′s your job to reward them generously. Your competitive advantage in business depends on you approaching and doing what your competition is afraid to do.

How can you soar if you don′t try? We all know it′s easier to ask forgiveness than get permission, right? Great leaders are pragmatic, but they take calculated risks and push the envelope. They tend to operate from the perspective that making decisions and taking bold action are part of what is expected of them. They don′t wait to be told, and they don′t always ask permission. At the same time, they take accountability for their actions. Business is moving fast, and if you are always waiting, someone will surpass you.

Stand out vs. fit in. The normalcy bias—the tendency to default to the norm—can keep you in your perceived comfort zone. Often fear keeps you doing what you have always done, but I believe you will realize your worst fears (being fired, passed over for the next big job, or looking silly) if you are not prepared to do the things that set you and your team apart from others. So be daring in your pursuits. I don′t mean reckless. Rather be passionate about bringing fresh thinking to the table.

Be a fundamentally different leader. Get intimate with your team, know their fears, understand their dreams, be passionate about what motivates them, give of yourself freely without hesitation, share your flaws, and your dreams. Think in ways that are fundamentally different, Act in ways that are fundamentally different, Talk in ways that are fundamentally different. Then watch how commitment and performance rise in your team.

If you want to engage in some radical change and lead your team to High Commitment and High Performance, consider developing your leadership skills alongside other leaders at our next CoachQuest Leader-as-Coach Workshop. Only a few days left to sign up, so register today.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.