Chapter 3Set Expectations and Decide Where to Start

Transformational change always involves uncharted territory. The end goal—the benefit that change will bring—serves as your North Star, but there are many unknown coordinates along the way. As a result, a change leader needs to be comfortable with getting lost. She needs to be able to get her bearings quickly, make the needed course corrections, get the team's buy-in, and then move everyone in that direction.

No one is more comfortable with getting lost than a nearsighted person with uncorrected vision, which, as I've mentioned, was me until age 16. I couldn't see signs until I got right up to them. When going somewhere new, I'd leave two hours early just in case I missed the bus or got on the wrong one. I carefully watched the people around me, and I was never shy about asking where I was, where we were going, and what the next stop was. When I did get lost, I didn't freak out, because it was already part of the plan. It happened a lot, and I knew how to deal with it. Little did I know I was building executive management skills.

But it can't only be you who's comfortable with getting lost. You have to prepare every other stakeholder for that moment as well. If your team isn't prepared, they're eventually going to be making decisions in a state of panic, or worse, ignoring problems and hiding them from leadership.

Your bosses need preparing. At the beginning of every change initiative, you, as the leader, have to give preliminary ...

Get Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.