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August 2, 2017
Leading Through the Short-Term Absence of Enthusiasm

There is very little Charlie doesn’t know about wood. And, if I am in your shoes right now, I am in desperate need of a little background on Charlie — and for that matter some context regarding “wood.” Charlie could best be described as a dying breed of master craftsman. My guess is that Charlie is about 70 years old and he lives on a piece of property in rural North Carolina that his family has probably owned forever. He wears bib overalls, works a toothpick in the side of his mouth like a windshield wiper in a thunder storm and carries himself like a man who is what he is whether you like it or not.

When you enter his property, you wind your way around the gravel road that leads past his log house and back to his work area. It is like entering a private replica of a small but well-planned western town from a time gone by. Over the years, Charlie has constructed a series of “shops” on each side of his road. He makes wooden bowls in one, shelves and tabletops in another, chairs and benches in another, and he even has one little shed where he cures gigantic hams.

Charlie’s son operates a logging business (not by coincidence) that clears plots of land in nearby Raleigh for residential and business developments and helps victims clear out when hurricanes and tornados literally blow through. In either case, those uprooted trees are dropped off in Charlie’s self-made complex and he works his “magic” on every one of them.

Because of all of this, Charlie has more work than he wants and more headaches than he needs. Most of us love a bargain, especially one that features a dream piece of handcrafted furniture that will last a lifetime for a fraction of what you would pay online or in a store. And, when you find yourself standing in the middle of Charlie’s “world,” you can’t help but think about the 50 different things he could be doing to more effectively commercialize his operation.

Then, almost at the exact same moment in time, you recognize that Charlie “ain’t changing a thing” (unless of course Charlie feels a change is necessary). Moreover, with all that in mind, I would offer that (at some level) most of us probably have a lot more in common with Charlie than we would care to admit. We learn (perhaps by teaching ourselves) how to do something, develop a level of comfort with doing that thing our way and have limited legitimate interest in “sharpening that saw.” It also stands to reason that if we are forced (for whatever reason) to change, we may well not initially approach our alternative reality with eagerness, gusto or passion.

So, if you are currently in a leadership position and find yourself responsible for implementing change with a Charlie or two, it would seem to make sense that you employ a strategy that accounts for the short-term absence of anything remotely resembling enthusiasm.

 

APPLICATION CHALLENGE

  1. When you are responsible for leading people into and through uninvited change:
    1. What percentage of people approach the change with enthusiasm (i.e., confidence, commitment and motivation to perform new tasks in a new manner)?
    2. What percentage of people resist the change?
  2. How would you describe the differences in your behavior leading people that are enthusiastic and those that lack motivation or commitment?
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