Talk is Cheap…Change is Hard


I have the privilege of introducing you to Mark Miller. Mark currently serves as the Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A. Mark is where I see myself in the next ten, fifteen years – a Christian professional specializing in the field of OD, working for a BAM (Business As Mission) company. Here’s great news. Ten years ago, Mark partnered with Ken Blanchard to write a leadership classic called The Secret. The 10th anniversary edition is available today. Mark has gladly offered to give away two books of his new book. To enter the giveaway, read the end of the post to learn how to win.

Leaders are paid to create change. Our vision calls for change, the journey is about change, people ultimately have to change – new priorities require new behaviors, the culture often has to change, the success metrics usually have to change, and the leader always has to change, too. Can you orchestrate changes like these?

The discipline of executing change is often referred to as “Change Management.” There are many different approaches and templates to make change happen. Here are a few of my observations after decades of trying to create positive change.

Leaders underestimate the power of inertia. Most people don’t like change. Leaders seem to forget this. For us, the rationale for the change we are advocating is so clear we believe the current change effort will be different. It makes so much sense, the logic goes, certainly, people will gladly and quickly embrace this change. Rarely does that happen. Leaders who create real and lasting change must invest time, energy and effort, often for years, to make change happen.

Clarity facilitates changeThe clearer the leader can be regarding the desired change(s) the greater the likelihood we can make it happen. We not only need to be clear on the vision, there can be no doubt regarding what we want people to do. Clarity is the lever that overcomes the inertia I mentioned earlier.

Communication enables change. As the rate of change increases, so must the rate of communications. Change creates questions. Leaders must answer as many of those questions as possible. Many times, we can anticipate the questions people will have and proactively answer them.

Listening can compress the adoption curve. People want to be heard. This is never more true than when a change is called for that effects them. Determine the various constituencies and seek them out. If you do this early it will save time. If you start without their input, the change may move at a snail’s pace. Then, in an attempt to speed the process, you’ll end up talking to them anyway. Do it earlier than later. 

Small wins can create big momentum. Momentum is tricky. When you’re initiating change, you’d love to have it on your side. Success breeds success. Many people are reticent to change because they aren’t sure they can be successful in the new world. When you can showcase others who are successfully navigating the change, it will build confidence.

Leaders who can’t create change, can’t lead for long. This is a big deal. At a macro level, a leader needs both good ideas and high levels of acceptance to create effective change. (See my post, The Most Powerful Leadership Equation Ever.) If we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of believing we’re paid for good ideas. That’s just not true. Good ideas, unrealized are of no more value than bad ideas. If you want to excel as a leader, you’ve got to learn to make change happen.

The good news… you can LEARN to lead change. Your competence will not be determined by your DNA or title or ancestry or gender or age. You can do this. When you do, your influence and your impact will soar!

Question: What are you currently trying to change?

How to Enter the Book Giveaway:

All you have to do is to two things:

1)    SHARE this post on Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn

2)    Leave a comment on bottom of the post. (Answer the Question above) 

I’ll announce the two lucky winners on September 7th on this post and social media!

Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else.  In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing. The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret will be released September 2, 2014.


  • Matt Gould

    I’m in a new position over the past 8 months that requires me to lead change in a non-profit that has been around for 28 years. Small staff…but regardless of size of staff, change is BIG. Working on culture first. We’ve instituted small steps successfully. Now…phase two…larger bites of change. New ideas put to action. The first few months were “easy” compared to what is coming…but…bring it on. I’m excited!

    • Awesome Matt. Have you read “The First 90 Days?” I think this book does a good job helping accelerate your transition into new roles, jobs, and careers.

      Let me know how you’re instituting the second phase with bigger changes and how I can be of any help to you. Excited for you Matt. I’ll put your name on the giveaway contest here!

  • MBranson6

    I believe that my church, and others here in Spain, have lost their original vision, or at least that they don’t see it the way Christians did in the past. Also they are not addressing a very important issue – sex! I want to open the discussion and get people, especially married couples, to be more open with each other and even with their children about the important of following the biblical principles of sex in and out of marriage.

    • Yes, I’ve noticed that church is where change seems impervious but healthy churches understand that change is inevitable and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, leaders need to make the “right” changes. Sex is an important discussion that unfortunately doesn’t happen in the church but outside areas where the concept is severely distorted.

  • Florine

    As co-founder of Dominion Schools, a private Christian School in Guyana, I believe that every child needs a sound education regardless of socio-economic background. I am believing God for the ability to produce materials which will impact and inspire children whose previous experience is failure. I believe the Holy Spirit can give the strategies to teach the way these children need to be taught. I believe the Holy Spirit can bring a turn around in our education system in Guyana and drastically improve our literacy.

    • Thanks Florine for sharing your story here. I’ll also join you in prayer. You are so right. We need to turn the world right side up by helping children receive sound education. Keep up with the great work! I also hope this book will help you lead better in this process.

  • Steven Tessler

    I’m currently trying to change my life!! I work where I do not want to and it is getting worse by the day.
    I have actively started writing a blog that is seeing increased traffic and I am starting a podcast.
    I am looking into more coaching opportunities and will be a life coach in the future!

    Thank you for this timely post!

    • Thanks Steven for your post here. I’d love to visit your blog and see the content you’re producing!

  • Terry Morgan

    I am enjoying your blog, Paul. You do a great job of resourcing leaders with valuable content. In my job these days, I am trying to change the organizational training culture to one that is more focused “outside/in” with a better audience evaluation and also move the “finish line” from event to life-change emphasis, usually through content-implementation coaching. I also had the opportunity to write about “The Secret”‘ this week at:

    • Thanks Terry. I appreciate your support, really do! I love your point of moving the finish line from merely a one-time event to a life-changing behavioral change. That, I believe is the key. One research that I recently read talked about how training in general needs to be radically revamped. The research indicated that frequent, shorter training were more powerful than a one-time training deal. For instance, interspersing training into once a month for the next six months was more powerful in behavioral change, than cramming all the training in one week.

  • Dastan Niiazov

    I’m Enactus (SIFE) student, so I’m trying to improve lives.

    • Thanks Dastan! Tell me more about Enactus and how you are planning to improve lives?

      • Dastan Niiazov

        Enactus is an international non-profit organization that connects students, academic and business leaders through enterpreneural-based projects that empower people to transform opportunities into real, sustainable progress for themselves and their communities. One of our team’s project is “AgroBusiness”. We help people from far regions to building not so expensive greenhouses and to be financially independent.

  • Reginald Tora

    I’m Reginald my purpose in life is to improve people’s lives and also mine as I’m a manager I try and do this everyday.

  • DSL

    Agree – Clarity, communication (which includes listening) are near the top in bringing about change. I am prone to not communicate with those who are opposed to change and that creates even more problems. Those opposed need even more communication. Thanks – I find your work helpful!

  • James Lewis

    As I have spent years reading and studying the topic, as well as advanced education in change leadership, I find it somewhat difficult to transfer that knowledge into long-term action. I wonder if others find similar challenge. The goal of being a good leader and mentoring leadership is a life-long journey.

    • James, yes great point. Change leadership is something I’m learning more about and yes it’s difficult to transfer the knowledge. I hope my Masters program will enable me to help leaders manage and lead change. As you said, it’s definitely a life-long journey!

  • Devon Flanders

    I really enjoy reading your literature suggestions. I am rather new to corporate leadership and want to change the perception that retail is just a job. Retail environments are the battlefield of innovation, the personalization of services and the beginning of brand advocacy. I only hope my continued leadership exudes my vision and and spreads passion for our work.

  • Joshua

    I am under bad leadership. No one wants to talk about because they like the Pastor. I have been trying to rise above the situation but it seems like no matter how much i try i can’t rise above the leader because he is the lid. The thing is i have young people whom i am teaching the word, they are keeping me in the church i am in. The pastor there does not respect time, does not have time for growing the church. He takes all the ideas i bring on the table without thinking about them. He has some serious issues with his character that are discouraging. I am not perfect and i would love to have a leader who can help me and develop me and the gift that God has given me. How do i change this without leaving the church ?

  • Kris

    I am currently trying to change processes that have been in place for some time but no one knows why we do it the way we do it. I am evaluating the process, then deciding if we do it because it works or if we do it because that is the way it is done. When that is complete I am taking a look at how the process is working for us and how or if it needs to change and who needs to be involved to make the change