The Four Phases of Change on Your Personal Leadership Journey
True change has very little in common with the flick of a light switch (or winning an election).
Yes, the light goes on, but it goes off just as easily – there is no stickiness or real shift. It’s just on, off, on, off. True change is much more like a journey. When you know the phases of change, you can bring awareness to where you’re currently stuck and make conscious choices to continue to move forward.
What if you’re instigating a career change or moving overseas or your organization was acquired? Even more relevant for so many now is moving forward when your candidate lost the election? Certainly, the answer is not to just roll over with passive acceptance. You can and must empower yourself to navigate your personal leadership journey through the change and use it as a catalyst for transformation.
I’ve been a change practitioner for over 20 years and strongly believe that there are things you can do to accelerate your personal change journey through each of the phases of change. Like all journeys, the change journey begins and ends with you moving. Body, heart, mind and soul all need to make the shift.
The Four Phases of Change on Your Personal Leadership Journey
Phase One: Physical
This is where it all starts – you make a move either by choice or a force outside of your control.
This is the easiest shift to make regardless of logistical complexity. In this phase, you’re moving from point A to point B.
My client moved from the suburbs to the City to double down on his commitment not only to his day job, but also his passion as a photographer of people in urban settings.
Another client’s company was acquired, and she had to leave her comfortable office she’d been working out of for years into a shared space.
Yet another had to reschedule countless meetings and immediately travel home to be with her father in the last days of his life.
Make the Leap Tip:
A to B can have a zillion details to juggle. Put them all on a checklist and work through it.
Phase Two: Emotional
Change is rarely easy even when you ace the logistics. You will likely feel a sense of loss regardless if you’re moving towards something wonderful or facing an unplanned tribulation.
There’s no need to push down the emotions that keep bubbling up during your change. You need to feel them and engage with them before you can let them go and move forward. It’s also essential to identify the core of the emotion. What is it about the change that’s leading to the most upset? Often, the heart of the emotional distress is masked or suppressed. Other times, the cause is clear. The bottom line is that smart leaders are unafraid to get to what’s underneath.
Coming face-to-face with emotion may make you feel weak or stupid or less masterful because it’s outside of your safety zone. So what? It’s essential for you to reframe that thought. Emotions are the heartbeat of life.
My client Jackie was a seasoned executive on her way from Senior Director to Vice President. We worked together to accelerate her success and promotion timeline.
A week prior to our scheduled call, Jackie found out that her son had an illness that would require ongoing care. True to form, she quickly put a plan in place but at the office was struggling to maintain her focus. She was also short tempered with her team which was out of character; they were driving her nuts. Jackie realized that her team didn’t dramatically shift their performance in a week but that something else was happening with her.
At the start of our session, Jackie asked if we could talk about something personal, her son. For our hour together she worked through the rawness of her son’s new reality and was able to begin to assimilate her feelings. Almost immediately she was able to take a deep breath and get back on track with her critical work projects too.
Jackie was not a corporate zombie, but a leader with a full life. In her effort to segment, she stopped herself from accepting her child’s health issue and was unable to remain on target at work. As I often tell clients, half a person can’t be a whole leader.
Make the Leap Tip:
Take a beat and find a trusted advisor, mentor, coach or friend and be with the emotions you’re experiencing – the whole crazy messy lot of them. Emotions indicate aliveness and a human rawness. If you don’t want to talk it through, write about your emotions in a journal. Getting to the root of your emotional distress puts you in control instead of at emotion’s whim. You choose how, but get the feelings on the table instead of packed way in a suitcase and stored in a closet only to be reopened days, weeks or months later.
Cyborgs Are the Future for Advisors
Becoming cyborgs is the way to go for financial advisers…blending robotics and humans into one organism.
You see, I am convinced that robo-advice models will succeed and prosper.
I am also convinced that human advisers will succeed and prosper.
I am further convinced that some of each will fail entirely and die, but in Darwinian fashion the most adaptable will survive and prosper. Smart financial advisers will work out how to become cyborgs and build an offering which is a blend of human and machine – or at least their practice will.
Despite the fear-mongering when it comes to robo’s the reality is that there are many great arguments for automated transaction systems, or robotic product delivery. Cost reduction for the consumer, cost reduction for the practitioner….efficiency, speed, convenience for all….elimination of the frustrating and time consuming service model supplied by the industry to low value transactional customers….and let’s be bluntly honest: some people DO just need a product solution at some stages of their life, and DO NOT need holistic advice at some points.
Robo-advice makes sense commercially, and it can meet a need in life stages planning for many consumers. It also happens to appeal to a segment of society who are happy to make their own decisions and transact from the comfort of their pyjamas during the ads in their evening television program, and who are unlikely to engage in full advice. It is worth remembering that this last type of consumer segment is growing at the expense of the traditional intermediated product delivery systems of distribution.
However, machines do not “manage” relationships and behaviour – humans manage humans. Humans tend to rebel against the concept (or slightest inference actually) that they are being manipulated or are at the mercy of computers and machines. Machines and automated systems exist for our convenience, don’t they? Nobody wants a “SkyNet”.
……So the human adviser remains in the equation……
When we strip out all the industry jargon and hyperbole the primary function of a financial adviser is to manage clients behaviour. We don’t really manage their money – other people do the actual money management. We don’t supply products….we source them from a supplier. What we do is manage their behaviour and expectations. We coach them. Machines don’t do that yet….and when they are able to (and they will be), most consumers will shy away from being managed by a machine.
But we cannot escape those arguments supporting robo-offerings as they make too much sense for clients and for us. In fact I suspect robo-advice will be a very good thing for smart adviser practices.
Believe it or not, I believe robo-offerings can help us get clients.
For most consumers there is a period early in life when their financial advice needs are fairly basic, and also there is a period later in life where all the planning has been done and consumers are moving into “drawdown” territory. In between those times, life gets somewhat busier and complexity increases substantially.
Advice delivered by humans should be focussed upon the complexity phase. Apart from the fact that this is the period of a consumers life when there are the most variables to consider in their planning needs, it is also the phase where behaviour management is a distinct help to the achievement of the consumers goals and objectives. Generally people will only do uncomfortable or new things if they have a high degree of trust and confidence in the person guiding them to do so, and establishing that level of trust – or the bond between two people – is where robo-offerings will struggle to compete.
However, when it comes to identifying a fairly simple need which has a product solution then robo’s will certainly be able to deliver a solution more cost effectively and faster than the human adviser can, who is bound by increasing complexity of their own called “compliance” every time they have to interact with another human being.
The smart adviser will identify those areas of their clients lives and those product solutions which work well for those times and find a transactional solution for their clients to access. They will build that transactional, no-advice, solution into the service offering that their practice puts into the market. In other words they will embrace and incorporate robo-offerings into their business model.
Not just because consumers want them or need them, and not just because it is cost effective to do so. Not even because we’d like to have a commercial revenue stream which sidesteps the more time-consuming (and therefore labour intensive and expensive) compliance requirements.
The reason smart advisers will do it is because it will help gather the next generation of clients for the firm before the complexity triggers drive them to seek advice elsewhere.
The robo-advice solution caters to those who have an identifiable need for financial services of one sort or another, but who do not yet need holistic bespoke planning. It is an entry point for consumers to become customers of the firm, and for the firm to then work upon converting those transactional customers into advised clients for the future.
Robotics are a part of our world and our future. We need to figure out how to make them a part of our business too, but in such a way that our business uses the robo’s, rather than being used by them. Humans and robo’s integrated into the same service business in order to deliver they type of solutions and assistance that consumers and customers and clients want at different stages of their life.
The future for the financial advisory practice is cyborgs.
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