Rewrite your nonprofit’s future by enlisting “coauthors”

Statistical evidence shows that most change efforts fail. The reason for this is that regardless of the management interventions attempted, the default futures of employees and leaders are still in place. The more things change, the more they stay the same. “Whatever you resist, persists,” say coauthors Zaffron and Logan in The Three Laws of Performance. However, when everyone in your organization gets involved in rewriting the future, you rewire everyone’s perceptions of how their performance rolls into the overall fulfillment of that new future. Once you realize how the Laws are changing people’s ingrained views about their roles in the organization, you begin to embrace the potential of how much you can change or improve your future.

Each of the Three Laws of Performance has a message or leadership corollary that guides what you can do and shapes who you are for others.

Leadership Corollary 1: Leaders have a say and give others a say in how situations occur. When leaders have engaged everyone in writing the future of their organizations, compliance is replaced by ownership. Ask yourself, “How can I interact with others so that situations occur in a more empowering fashion to them? What processes, dialogues or meetings can I arrange so that people can feel like coauthors, not merely recipients, of a new future?

Leadership Corollary 2: Leaders master the conversational environment. Consider that your organization is its own network of conversations. What paradigms can you break with new language? One hundred percent of leadership happens through conversations that pull people into the game, not through sitting back and creating visions that need to be sold. Leaders manage and master the conversational environment by working with people to resolve any “incompletions” they have. Leaders also create a blank space into which the new future can be created. They bring group “rackets” into the open so they can be discussed and resolved. Leaders do all of this with integrity.

Leadership Corollary 3: Leaders listen for the future of their organization. By following this corollary, there is no implementation problem because the group has coauthored the future.

When I asked the authors about the leadership efforts within a particularly challenging situation they described in the book, here’s what they had to say.

CausePlanet: Early in the book, you explain how the newly appointed CEO, Brad Mills, “transforms an impossible situation” at Lonmin (a publicly traded company in South Africa) by changing how the situation “occurred” to thousands of employees. Would you explain the role “occurrences” have in your performance laws?

Zaffron & Logan: Fundamental to the Three Laws of Performance is the relationship between how a situation occurs and the actions that are naturally correlated. By “occur” we don’t merely mean how a situation is perceived. We also include the significance and meaningfulness that comes with the experience of the situation. The breakthrough comes from using these ideas to shift how situations occur, allowing for powerful new actions to naturally emerge. In real life situations, people can’t try to remember what actions to take. Life is like a tennis ball coming over a net at 100 miles per hour. For a professional tennis player, the movement of the ball occurs as “hittable.” For most people, it would occur as a blur. Shifting how situations occur for people is akin to having a tennis ball that used to occur as a blur occur as hittable.

Learn more about the author’s leadership corollaries for the Three Laws of Performance and how you can change the way your team perceives their performance as part of the overall organizational goals. You can purchase the book at www.threelaws.com or find out more about the complete Page to Practice summary.

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