I have always loved music and dancing, especially Motown, Parliament, and jazz. In preparing for the father-daughter wedding dance, we had to learn some new steps. More importantly, I was going to have to use them while leading the dance. The learning process reminded me a lot of change management. Specifically,
The new steps were a lot harder for me to learn than our daughter; reason being, I kept reverting back to my old steps that had served me well. They had become muscle memory. Our daughter quickly caught on to them. I was messing her up because I was leading the dance.
After the third lesson, when I still wasn't getting it, I started to get frustrated and also down on myself because I thought I was an OK dancer. I felt even worst when I accidentally stepped on our daughter's feet.
Things changed when I stopped watching my feet and counting steps and started listening to the music and moving to the beat. Then, I started having fun.
Here's my point: Leaders, even though most won't admit it, have a harder time with change than their people do. Their muscle memory takes over even though the music and movement to it have changed. They step on a lot of feet in the process and also become frustrated, which is evident by all who are watching.
To be successful, leaders have to stop being mechanical about change and start being musical about it. The song is the organization's mission (purpose) and the beat being its core processes. Organizational, especially transformational, change always involves doing one, if not all, of the core processes differently. In other words, learning new steps with your employees and customers being your dance partners.
KEY MESSAGE: If you are getting frustrated and stepping on people's feet, stop counting and start listening.