Changes That Lead
Based on the landmark book Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud, PhD, Kit Hill, EdD reframes the ideas as a leadership primer
Everyone of us comes to work with baggage and a need to grow and develop. We symbolically bring in our family of origin to the workplace. We’re human! Few of us have our act totally together when we start a new job. While work is not therapy and it should not be, it can be a powerful catalyst to help us develop in and out of our roles at the job. Many have read Changes That Heal by Henry Cloud, Ph.D. Here I look at the book as a leadership tool to help develop ourselves and our people and maybe give them an opportunity to make changes that heal and grow.
Time is what you need to wait for people to manifest the behavior of learning the job. An illustration of this is when a scientist teaches a lab animal a trick that they know it should be able to do, it is actually learning but maybe not showing its learning. The next morning they come in and run the experiment and the animal does it like it's known the behavior all its life. This is manifest learning as opposed to what was happening before which was latent learning which you can't see.
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Grace is the second part of the equation where you allow people to make mistakes and give them grace as they need it to learn the new job or action. Handling this right helps them make good sense of their learning experiences.
Truth is where we begin to have a little bit more firmness in that we hold them accountable to certain standards that they need to perform the job well. We evaluate their performance (but not judge them as people) after raising expectations.
Next Henry talks about bonding and bonding is important in the workplace because it gives people a sense of belonging and connection as well as meaning. Without good bonding in a workplace people will not feel like they are part of a team or that they belong. Research indicates this bonding for staff is even more important than pay. Although good bonding needs to be established well outside the workplace, it is still important so that people learn to trust their leaders and fellow staff.
Next are boundaries which are very important to establish in leadership so that you can define roles and expectations. Henry has a whole book written about this subject called Boundaries And Leaders. Defining Vision, Mission and Goals are other parts a boundaries in leadership. While boundaries are not walls, they help our staff and ourselves define our responsibilities, what is and is not in our bailiwicks as well as keeping people challenged without overwhelming them.
The next part of the book talks about sorting out the bad and good in ourselves and others. We want to get away from black or white thinking. This is important in leadership because we want to be able discern between a bad action or attitude and the actual person. Judging a person from an all bad-all good perspective is counterproductive. The leader that sees a person as all good will be blind to their problem areas and not hold them accountable. The leader that sees a person as all bad will judge the person and not see their good parts or their talents or assets. It is also important to be careful of the ideal other or self as well as the despised other or self. These four positions can distort our thinking and lead us to expectations and or judgements that benefit no one.
Further on the book deals with maturing into adulthood. Within the rules and structure of the workplace, both the leaders and the staff must rise to the level of maturity and beyond to be able to be effective in their tasks and relationships. This on one hand requires respect and appropriate working together with leaders. On the other hand, it also means that we must not be in a complete one down one up relationship with our authorities or our staff at work. To put it simply, it means that we are to require respect from others as well as to make sure that we respect them.
Some leaders see themselves as one up and believe they have absolute authority over all things and that they don’t have to respect anybody. It is not uncommon for these leaders to be failing in some way. For other leaders they still feel like they are one down with people, even their own staff. This is where it is important to work on our personal bonding so we can grow up to a role that we are called to. Bonding gives us a “launching pad” with which we can form our boundaries.
As part of this growth and maturity it’s important that we disagree sometimes with the first leaders that we ever met (i.e. our parents). And likewise, it’s important that your staff and peers can appropriately disagree with you. It is also important to recognize and pursue our talents and abilities as well as our creative instincts so as to find the right role in our leadership and help others do the same. Maybe you're a creative boss or perhaps maybe you're a boss that's very good about sticking to facts and figures. So, it's important to expand these gifts while at the same time finding people who can help you with the areas you're not so strong in.
Changes That Heal For Leadership was not a book Henry necessarily intended but do understand that the real book originated as part of a project to stop burn out in a campus ministry. With that said it can do much to help us develop us as leaders and help us develop our staff. Reach out if you need help with these stages with yourself and or your team.