CHANGE: Organizations that grow and scale

David Alexander, Community Engagement Manager at Technology Partners

David Alexander, Community Engagement Manager



CHANGE: Organizations that grow and scale

She took a sledgehammer and broke the wall between the product development and marketing team — literally.

Drywall flew through the air, dust floated to the ceiling, and the point was clear, jaw-droppingly clear. Change was needed, profitability was down, and their main outlet to consumers (malls) was dying. Sharon Price John, CEO of Build-A-Bear, needed to paint a vivid and compelling picture with real action behind it–breaking down things internally to achieve the growth she knew her company needed.

Jennifer didn’t have a physical wall to break through but had very real obstacles ahead.

Her target, set by management, was to double the revenue in her newly inherited technology team — and doing the same the following year.  Jennifer faced a variety of barriers to entry: Physically, the team was spread thin; she faced opposition as a woman in a male-dominated industry; she was a young leader, and needed to build generational trust quickly while bringing new energy, morale, and agility to the team. Jennifer Hopper, VP of Technology Consulting at Mastercard, navigated change by inclusion. She used her background as of education and as a collegiate athlete to form a culture that passionately went beyond formalities into a bond that was closer to family. Her team not only met the goals — but exceeded them.

Lisa was at the top of her game.

She was a successful entrepreneur but was convicted by a single sentence that shifted everything. It was a realization that brought her to tears as she hosted a leadership event with a group of millennials in her home. Dr. Richard Blackaby said, “When we decide to stay where we are, someone in our life always gets hurt.” Lisa Nichols, CEO and co-founder of Technology Partners, realized change had to start within herself. She took to heart the need to grow as a leader for her family at home, as well as her 350 person team at Technology Partners.

Although each of these leaders have different backgrounds, the principles shared speak to every organization facing change.  

1. Growth Mindsets Win

It starts with you. No matter what season in life there are always opportunities to grow, learn, and lead yourself. A couple of basic habits are often mentioned but neglected with the pace of life in U.S. culture. Warren Buffet says that he insists, “on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulsive decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.” Are you designing the life you want to live? Some simple outlets could be journaling, listening to podcasts, or starting a book club.

2. Transparency and Trust = Movement

If your business were a garden, the flowers would be words of affirmation and the weeds would be words of frustration and fear. The soil of every good company culture is rooted in good people. When leading, it’s crucial to use vulnerability as a strength — an active stance rather than a passive one. Far too often, surveys are sent when the better option would be an invitation to connect in person. When feedback is given the next important step, as Sharon Price John mentioned, is “implementation.”

Admitting fault takes courage. Brene Brown says it best:

“Courage gives us a voice and compassion gives us an ear. Without both, there is no opportunity for empathy and connection.”

If you want your organizations to thrive amidst change, trust is the first step in the process.

3. Broken to Build

Between physical, generational, or departmental barriers are part of life. They have to be broken for change to occur. The best leaders are able to live in the land of having both emotional empathy and strategy. They realize that everyone will not be happy.

Sometimes the change you need will require you to forget what you thought you knew. In order to build something greater, you need to be willing to go outside your comfort zone and not settle for the status quo. 

4. Working Together

These incredible, thought-provoking leaders shared words with true conviction at the Convergence Conference at UMSL on March 26th, 2019. In order to manage change successfully, you have to start with a growth mindset, then build a culture of transparency and trust, and lead with confidence as walls begin to crumble.  Sustainability and relevance for the future should always be a top-of-the mind goal of every organization.  In a rapidly changing world, the thoughtful and measured attention to organizational change will be a necessary exercise that every leader will need to embrace to realize that goal.  

Reach out to me, (636.590.5992) and let’s talk about how Technology Partners can help you on your continuing quest to be a forward-thinking leader.

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