Join us today for Part 2 of the Interview with Al Comeaux, author of Change (the) Management: Why We as Leaders Must Change for the Change to Last...
This is Part 2 of the interview I had with speaker, leader, and change mangement guru Al Comeaux.
In today’s 2nd part of the four part interview with Al Comeaux, we continue our conversation about managing change. This week I ask Al to talk about pulling versus pushing for change, listening and why that’s so important, the mindset we have to have to win at change, and lots more.
Join in on the Chat below.
00:00:00 Thanks for joining us on episode 661 of the inspired stewardship podcast. I'm Al Como. I challenge you to invest in yourself, invest in others, develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, talent and treasures, to live out your calling. Having the ability to manage change is key. And one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this inspired stewardship podcast with my friend,
00:00:30 Scott Mader, This idea of mindset. So the winners, it changed in the losers of change, had different ways of thinking about. And so I say mindset, meaning how do you think, how do you go about, so both the winners and losers knew that if their people didn't change there wasn't a change. So the wa loses it, changed it.
00:00:57 We got to get our people to change. The winners changed, said we have to change. Welcome. And thank you for joining us on the inspired stewardship podcast. If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent and your treasures for your true calling in the inspired stewardship podcast.
00:01:20 We'll learn to invest in yourself, invest in others and develop your influence So that you can impact the world In today's second part of the four part interview with Al Como, we continue our conversation about managing change this week. I asked Al to talk about pulling versus pushing for change, listening and why that's so important and the mindset we have to really have to win a change.
00:01:57 And lots more. One reason I like to bring you great interviews. Like the one you're going to hear today is because of the power in learning from others. Another great way to learn from others is through reading books. But if you're like most people today, you find it hard to find the time to sit down and read. And that's why today's podcast is brought to you by audible,
00:02:20 go to inspired stewardship.com/audible to sign up and you can get a 30 day free trial. There's over 180,000 titles to choose from. And instead of reading, you can listen your way to learn from some of the greatest minds out there. That's inspired stewardship.com/audible to get your free trial and listen to great books the same way you're listening to this podcast, Al Como,
00:02:49 a former executive at Travelocity GE and American airlines is a decorated corporate pioneer and a global authority on change from inside Organizations. His career championing change as a senior leader at the Uber disruptive dot coms, as well as really established global world renowned companies and his 20 year journey looking into and researching. Why is it that change efforts fail and what's really needed for change to succeed making one of the world's most forward thinkers on what leaders must do.
00:03:28 And even more importantly, how they must think to succeed at change back in 2019, Al founded primed for change set up to be a disruptive project, created to prepare leaders, to take organizations successfully through change. Alan, his family live not too far from me, right up the road in Fort worth, Texas, well, Texas speak. That's not too far,
00:03:52 uh, where he is deeply involved in his family, his faith and his community Al has recently released a great book. I've really enjoyed reading it, called change the management, as opposed to change management focused on why, how leaders of all sorts have to get involved in the change process to bring successful change by pulling their people through change rather than pushing it or outsourcing it to others.
00:04:23 Welcome to the show Al. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate, um, being able to join you, Scott, it's always a little weird to hear your own intro, right? There's always that moment of really. I did that really cool. Okay, cool. I want to be that guy. He sounds pretty cool. At least that's how I feel about it.
00:04:44 leaders often come into an organization and they find themselves trying to push for change. This idea of we've got to push the organization. In fact, I've,
00:05:15 I've had leaders tell me that, you know, you need to, to help us push for change. They actually described it in those words, but you suggest that a better way to invest in change in your team is to pull people towards change. What do you mean by that? Well, so first of all, it is, uh, it's absolutely normal for us to push change onto others.
00:05:44 Here's, here's how, here's how we come at change. Typically as leaders in an organization, we grew up and grew up in the organization and Rose up in the organization because we were good at solving Problems, right? So people who are, you know, you have some people who are great at solving problems and other people who say, Oh, we've got a problem.
00:06:06 We don't know what to do. And so those who are like, let me work my way around this, let me solve this. Let me figure out how we solve this problem. People are energized by that. They get patted on the back, they get promoted. And then when you get to the top of an organization, you sit on an executive team.
00:06:22 You're surrounded by other people who are problem solvers, right? And so we solve problems. We figure out, we see a problem. Now, when there's a problem that involves change, we see it no differently than any other problem that we solve. Uh, and so we solve the problem. We see the problem, you understand that requires change. We come up with the answer and then we deliver it to everyone else.
00:06:45 And that's pushing change onto people. It's going to upset their world the way they do things every day is going to be different. And we've sort of told them that they have to do it. So it's only natural that we, that we as leaders push change, that's in our nature. But if we're going to, if, if we're going to succeed at change,
00:07:09 the winners that change, pull their people to and through the change, right? So an example of a, um, uh, someone walking your walk up to a, uh, uh, a scene and you see tug of war going on there, five people on one side, and on the other side, there's one person on, on the first side with the five people,
00:07:31 they work for your competitor on your side, it's your leader all by themselves. And they're getting pulled pretty hard. What are you going to do? Are you going to let the humiliation stand? Or are you going to go and pull with the leader? Right. And, and, and you're, you're going to go pull with the leaders, going to do a,
00:07:54 it's only natural if you've got the physical ability to do so, you'd run over there and pull, you'd yell to your colleagues who might be nearby. And it was your idea. It wasn't your boss's idea, right? But there's another scenario where you stumbled upon, uh, uh, uh, uh, bag of war. And you've got five people there waiting for your,
00:08:15 your organization, okay. Come up and, and, and fight against them. And your boss is standing there with his people. And he's saying, let us see who should we choose to do this with? Okay. Here's how we're going to do this. And we want you people, you five people to be on our side, and we're going to sit here and tell you how to do it.
00:08:36 And we're, we're, we're not going to actually do it, but we're going to sit here and tell you how to do it. And, and then we're going to criticize you or critique you offer, you know, uh, constructive criticism while you try to pull now, which one of those is which one of those situations inspires you and wants you to pull with it,
00:08:58 your leader, right. Obviously the first, but we as leaders, we impose the second, right? We solve the problem for everyone. So we have to pull we, and that involves humble. Simply ask, humbly, asking our people to come with us on this thing called change. Uh, you know, we want to hand it off to others,
00:09:19 but we have to actually pull our people through the change. You know, it's, it's, it's ours to share and invest in others by asking them not by telling them if we ask them, they'll grow themselves. Right. And that's part of investing in others. We will, we will, we will ask them they'll grow and come with us. The example,
00:09:43 another example that I use is a guy named Daniel. So there's this guy named Daniel. And in 1998, after growing his mortgage business over 13 years, he realized there was this big threat or opportunity. He didn't know which one it would be called the internet. Right? So 1998 was a year of land grabs everywhere for this thing called the internet.
00:10:05 Everybody was jumping, bring into it. And, and people were, you know, I think about circuit city, I think about blockbuster. I think about, you know, borders, books, they all had internet strategies. Right, right. That they told their people what to do. Right? Yeah. And they were really just a replay of what they were already doing.
00:10:23 Just stuck online, oftentimes exactly. Right. Where where's Daniel, this guy Daniel said, okay. And I found it in his communications from 1998, he went to his people and he said, Hey, this there's this great thing called the internet. We could week. We're just, we're a regional company. We could do mortgages in 50 States. We could let me just paint this picture for you.
00:10:47 And he, and he talked about how capable his team was, how excited he was for the team. And then he asked them to join. Will you come with me essentially? He said, Hey, will you come with me? Give me your ideas. Right? Give me your ideas for this thing. That's pulling. He pulled these people into this thing called the internet.
00:11:09 They got excited and long story short, this company, rock financial back in 1998. Well, today that company is not circuit city. It's not, it's it's, it's not the mortgage version of circuit city or borders. No, that company today is called Quicken loans. Just, just past, just surpassed a Wells Fargo to be the number one lender,
00:11:35 mortgage lender in America. So going from a regional company that no one, most people hadn't heard of to, you know, an almost household name, we've all heard of them. They've got more JD power awards for customer satisfaction than you can shake a stick at. And they've got, um, regularly, like for a dozen years now, they've been in the top 30 companies best companies to work for.
00:11:59 So if you want to win at change, don't push it onto people. It's as urgent as you think it is. And it was urgent in 1998 that Daniel together on the internet, as urgent as you think it is, pull your people, ask them to come with you, pull them to the change, pull them through the change. It's very different way to look at change,
00:12:21 but it's how we have to do it if we're going to win. Yeah. And so, as you were walking through those examples, a personal example that comes to mind in terms of, of, and by personal here, I mean, as an, at a family level, I have had couples come to me, you know, or more often than not in this case,
00:12:43 one member of the couples come to me and say, you know, Oh yeah, our budget is all messed up. We're overspending, we're in debt. We need to get out of it. And, you know, if fill in the blank of the spouse, you know what, just stop, fill in the blank of whatever they're doing. You know,
00:13:02 I, if I've gone and I've made the budget and it's perfect, you know, it has everything exactly the way it should be. If they would just follow this, you know, everything would be great. And I'm like, you know, let's turn that around. How excited would you be? This does not sound fun to me that he or she is getting dictated.
00:13:24 Right. And by the way, the reason I left the spouse, instead of saying he or she is, I've seen it play out both directions. This is not a Hershey thing. This is us to them. Right. And as, as well as part of that, it's, you know, we, as coaches, we talk about whether it's time,
00:13:43 whether it's, you know, career, whatever change, right. All of that things involve change. We look at it and I have people say, how do I get my spouse onboard? And it's, you know, and it comes down to how do you have that conversation? How do you invite them to go on this journey with you and get excited about it?
00:14:04 Not how do you walk in and say, this is what you will do. You know, that's not going to work. I've come up with the answer. And it is this I've gone to the mountain and God has given me these, these 15 drop 10, 10 commandments, you know, the Mel Brooks. So, so, And what you're saying actually is at the core of what I'm saying is it's human interaction Has nothing to do with corporate people Interaction at every level,
00:14:35 in all our relationships. Yeah. That, that, and that's actually, I mean, I will tell you, as I was reading the book, I'm literally translate again, a new coaching situations because it, for coaches out there that are listening, it's worth three for that alone. Because even if you're not dealing with organizational change, all of it is people because organizations are just made up of people.
00:15:00 That's absolutely right. We forget that. We think it's this behemoth, this monolith, but no, I mean, it's not, it's not a monolith. And, um, I went to China for the first time and I remember my friend who lived there saying, you know, he was he's American, but he said, you know, Americans think that the Chinese government is a monolith because it's sort of top down.
00:15:22 It's not, of course it's a bunch of human beings. So even in communist, China, you know, you've got human interaction. Right. And, and yeah, and I mean, are there cultural differences between an Asian and a Western country? Yes, of course there are, but at their core, there still also some things that humans do in different ways,
00:15:44 but we all do with them. You know, I mean, it may look a little different. It may have a little different veneer on it, but at its core, there's some similarities in how we do things. Um, and actually I think a lot of what you're railing against in some ways is, you know, both in Western and Eastern,
00:16:00 you know, corporate culture, it's just going to look different. Um, but it's there, I'm not, I hope I'm not railing to the, to the point where I am turning people off and, and pushing, pushing this on people. So hopefully, um, hopefully You do a really good job of telling the stories, um, which is honestly part of,
00:16:20 uh, and, and again, that's the other thing I will, uh, we'll, we'll back up is because you're telling story. I don't think it's pushing. Um, now railing in my mind is not a negative word. Everyone hears that isn't it because it needs to be railed against, because again, we do this, this is how we,
00:16:39 this is how we see the world. Uh, back to last week, you talked about the rational decision making versus emotional decision making. One of the things I tell people when I'm training other coaches is people don't make buying decisions out of logic. They make buying decisions based on emotion, and then they justify them using logic. We explain the story to ourselves.
00:17:01 It's, that's the truth, you know, and at a core, we don't do it just, we're not robots, we're people. And so there's always an emotional component. I don't care how logical you think the decision was. There's an emotional component. It's one of the problems with the invisible hand economic theory is, you know, that works. If everyone only makes rational decisions,
00:17:24 guess what we don't. So as part of change, we often believe that, you know, we have both, all the answers. We have, all the questions, we know what we're doing. We've talked about it. We could go off in that conference room, have the executive weekend summit away, you know, make all the plans, uh,
00:17:44 and then come back and deliver this. And then you've said over and over again, listening is a core step to successful change. So if you're the leader of a group, if you're in a nonprofit church corporation, small business, what family, whatever it is, what does that look like? What does listening actually look like as a leader for an organization?
00:18:06 So, first of all, I would say there are a couple of reasons why we need to listen. The first is no matter how big our organization is, we may have 10 people working with us. We may have 10,000 people working with us, but no matter how big our organization is, we have no idea what goes on in our organizations every day.
00:18:26 We have to humble ourselves and understand that, right? We don't, we might know how our business works to some extent, but all of the interdisciplinary interactions, although the, the friction that's been worked out over the years, between people and groups and organizations inside the organization, all of those things, the handoffs, the Baton handoffs, all of those things are things that we don't really know how they really work are people do they do.
00:18:56 So when we go away for a weekend and have a summit on how we're going to change the world, our world, and we come back and we deliver these answers, we look naive, our answers are naive to them. Now they'll smile and act like, Oh, great, that's really good. Oh, that's a really good idea to our faces.
00:19:17 But inside, they've got something called cognitive dissonance. They don't want to change to begin with. And then we're pouring on a bunch of changes that don't make any sense to them. And so while they are smiling and nodding at us and, you know, talking like they're repeating what we've said inside, they either want to curl up into the fetal position,
00:19:36 or they want to throw things at us because, you know, we've sort of not only upset them, they've had nothing to do with it. So listening gives us a better solution set. If we go to them and say, here's the, here's the problem. Here's the opportunity. Let's get excited about that. And we want your, we want your energy.
00:19:54 We want your mind to be thinking about that and giving us great ideas. If we do that, we get a better solution set. The other thing that is fascinating about listening, and this comes out of a study of a merger back in the 1980s that was successful. Most mergers are not successful for a lot of different reasons, but this particular merger,
00:20:15 they listened to the people that at the target company, the company being bought, and when people are listened to, they feel hurt when we truly listen to our people, whether it's our spouse, whether whoever it is when they feel heard, something changes in them. And so they'll do extraordinary things, extraordinary things I mentioned in last week's episode, Pixar wanted a 15% reduction in,
00:20:44 uh, in costs. They went to their people said, how do we do this? Instead of sort of handing out the cost instructions. There are people didn't come up with a 15% reduction idea. They came up with a way to cut costs 40%. So people will do extraordinary things. Um, if you invest in your people by listening and letting them share,
00:21:05 letting them shine, um, it'll pay off, you get Moonbeam ideas. When you listen, you get people with agendas, all of those things, that's the thrill of listening and the agony of getting a load, uh, you know, getting a load of information. But the reality is listening makes successful change possible. So that's why we have to listen.
00:21:29 That's why it's important. And, and, and, you know, we see it done every day. So we see it done by companies that, or any, any organization by just having focus groups, having, um, we can, you can do it online with ideation, technologies and tools. Um, you can just simply go out and sit.
00:21:48 Uh, one time I went out and sat in the FedEx room. This is back at Travelocity when there were still tickets and we would meet, we would FedEx tickets to people. I sat there three nights in a row for four hours and just worked with them and found, and that's how I sort of heard and listened and learned what was going on with them and what was wrong with our systems there and what could be improved.
00:22:11 Right. So sometimes you just have to do it in different ways. Yeah. That's the irony. Usually somebody that's working in a portion of the project and, you know, in a department let's say in a company or in a unit, in a, in a company, they usually know what's wrong, but nobody's ever asked. So they just sit there and deal with it and work around it.
00:22:36 Or if they've said anything about it, no one's listening Or no, one's listened. Yeah. If they, if they have been asked, it was more of a token ask or they tried to say something and everybody's like, yeah, no, that's the way you do it. Um, you, you do it this way. Cause that's what the,
00:22:50 that's what the SOP says. So that's what you have to do, you know? Um, even though it makes no sense that it made sense 10 years ago when it was written, but things have changed Tickets anymore. We sell, we don't ship tickets anymore. Right. The world's changed. So as you talk about the difference between winning and losing it change,
00:23:13 the other area that, that you kind of bring up is this idea of mindset. Now mindset is one of those things that a lot of different people mean different things when they say it. So would you talk a little bit about what does it mean to reset your mindset for change? Yeah. And it's interesting though. So the winners that changed in the losers,
00:23:37 a change, I did, you know, two thirds of our change efforts fail. Uh, we waste $2 trillion with a T a year on and after looking at the winners and the losers that change, I found out it wasn't that the winners had changed. We're better at executing the change than the losers or understanding strategy and figuring out what needed to change,
00:23:58 what, what the problem was that was going to cause the change. They were equally good at all of these things. They had equally good people. The difference and most books by the way, are about those things. How to, how to execute on the change, et cetera, this, this idea of mindset. So the winners at changed in the losers of change had different ways of thinking about it.
00:24:20 And so I say mindset, meaning how do you think about how do you go about thinking about the losers? A changed said, we got to get our people to change. So both the winners and losers knew that if their people didn't change, there was no change. So the loses it changed, said, we've got to get our people to change the winners that changed said,
00:24:40 we have to change. If we don't change ourselves, no one will have an example. We'll be sending our people across an icy bridge to a place that no one's been before. And there will be no tracks on that icy bridge. And no one will know what it's like over there. So we better change. We better show them the way, come up with a creative way to show them the way we may not do the work that they do every day that we're asking them to change.
00:25:06 We've got to come up with a creative way to do that. The losers it changed, kept on saying, we just got to get our people to change. If the winners had changed, said something very different as well on again, they said, we have to get our people to want to change. Now the difference between getting our people to change and getting our people to want to change is giant,
00:25:30 right? How do we go about getting our people to want to change? That is the mindset that we have to build. We have to invest in people so that they will want to change. And how do we get our people to want to change? Well, after 20 years of looking at this, I've been able to sort of narrow it down to four things.
00:25:47 So we've talked about a couple of them. One is pulling our people instead of pushing change onto people. One is listening for their ideas, right? One is getting our hands dirty. So we have to be involved in the inputs, not just sitting around, waiting for the outcomes. And finally we have to model the change and we have to show people the way.
00:26:09 So that's the mindset that we have to have. We have to change. We have to get our people to want to change. And the way to get our people to want to change is in these four things, modeling the change, listening, pulling, and getting our hands dirty. So that's what I'm meaning by, uh, getting our people to change and changing our own mindsets.
00:26:29 And again, we, I may have said this this week or last week, and again, we have to decide and understand that we are the only people who control our actions, our thinking. And so we have to get it into our heads as leaders invest in ourselves so we can invest in others. So both of us are from Texas and yeah.
00:26:55 And one of the examples you used in the book is the Texas roadside campaign. And so to just give a little context, so I'll let you tell the story, but I, it leaped out at me in part because I'm from Texas, but the irony is people not from Texas actually recognize the slogan. Don't mess with Texas, you know, which became this,
00:27:15 this campaign. Can you talk a little bit about how that's an example of this sort of pull for change kind of mentality and why that worked here at a state level? I mean, this is an, a big state, you know, rather than what they've been doing before, which was more of the punishment model of, you know, fines and catch people and so on and so forth.
00:27:39 Yeah. So the, this is going back a while, but, um, the Texas litter was costing Texas $20 million a year and the cost was growing 17% a year. So it was going to double in five years, it was going to be up to 40 billion in five years. And, you know, and also by the way, litter is ugly,
00:28:00 right? Yeah. We don't like, um, but you know, people didn't seem to respond to the way that they were being encouraged to stop. You might say encouraged to stop signs that said $500 fine for littering, you know, $500 fine for littering. The, the demographics of the litterer, the people who were littering were young men age 18 to 24.
00:28:27 And so they'd done the research. They knew kind of who the guilty party was. And so, you know, they put up with these signs, but you can imagine these signs being target practice, or, you know, the 18 to 24 year olds, let me throw my stuff out at the, at this sign because they were just certainly not taken by it.
00:28:46 And this was pushed change. Right? You will be fine. You better stop et cetera. Right. An ad agency in Austin, GSTM DNM did some research on this and started understanding what, what really appealed to the hearts of the people who were, uh, who were doing this right. And they were Texans themselves. And I'm not a native Texan,
00:29:08 but, uh, you know, I've, I've been exposed to, You've been here long enough to get a little bit, What you recognize is there's a swagger among Texans. They just think their state is so awesome. We think this is so awesome. And, and you know, it's Texans, Texas kids do the pledge to the Texas flag after the pledge,
00:29:31 the American flag, it's, it's sort of embedded. And this idea of Texas being this great place is embedded in the hearts of Texans everywhere at every. Um, and so they recognize we have to come up with a way to inspire people, to save this thing that we love to not, not hurt this thing, that we love that to understand that we're hurting this thing that we all love called Texas.
00:29:57 And so instead of coming up with, you know, keep Texas beautiful or, you know, something that might be inspiring to some groups, they came up with don't mess with Texas, and they got people who couldn't bottle it. So Stevie Ray Vaughn was the first person to do it. During some big sports event, they had a commercial and they got people that these 18 to 24 year olds really looked up to.
00:30:23 And as a result of this, instead of, instead of chain, instead of litter going up 17% a year, it came down by something like 80% in, in a year, just ridiculous, ridiculous outcomes, but it was not because they pushed this idea of stop littering on people. They went to people and got them on an emotional level. They pulled them to this new place of let's not mess with this great thing called Texas.
00:30:52 And they did that by listening to a bunch of 18 to 24 year olds. And that's how they got change. They didn't get changed by telling people to change. They got changed by telling people to come with them on this tour, to this new place where Texas isn't messed with and it's not littered on. And, and again, what's funny is that campaign launch decades ago,
00:31:12 I mean, it's been, it's been a long time and it's still, You still have t-shirts, it took off, it took a life of its own, but you still have tee shirts and all these other things, but it was a roadside litter campaign, right. To begin with. Right. And now it's, it is sort of almost, it's become kind of an unofficial state motto or slogan,
00:31:31 you know, will people use it in other ways, but it also, still, you still see it as roadside signs that instead of saying, there's a $500 fine for, it says don't mess with Texas. And people know that means don't throw stuff out. And they've layered on top of it, like accidental, like showing the truck where it blows out from behind the truck.
00:31:52 Cause there are a few pickup trucks in Texas, you know, that kind of thing. And I mean, it's interesting cause it continues to go on because it works out. It really shows you that if you want to change things, you meet people both on a rational and an emotional level. Right. And, and you're, you're explaining things on that.
00:32:13 Those levels you'll listen and you'll pull people, you don't push change on a people. Yeah. Yeah. 40 years ago when that was launched, I was right about almost entering the demographic that they were targeting. So I really do remember this as a big, as a big campaign. I can, I can remember the emotion of it. So it's,
00:32:32 it's, it's funny how that kind of thing resonates. And, and again, that's not the same as they didn't go out and just a vision And say, you know, we're going to, we're going to reduce litter. No, they really had to tune in to what was going on. Why was it going on? And how can we, how can we deliver a message that resonates with people,
00:32:54 which ways they actually had to talk to people first to figure out what resonates with this age group and this demographic and this kind of thing. Yeah. So you can follow firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com, which is probably a little easier to spell. He's also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, all under at owl Como I'll have course have links to all of that over in the show notes as well.
00:33:24 Al, is there anything else you'd like to share with the listener? Well, I I'd love for people to engage on what I've been talking about, which is really about leaders needing to change all of us, needing to change by listening to others, by pulling people into and through the change, as opposed to pushing change on people. I really think that we can do a much better job at this,
00:33:49 make our economy more efficient and make our lives better if we can change in a better way. So I wish great change and good luck to everyone out there.
00:34:24 If you enjoy this episode, please, please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/itunes rate. All one word iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed until next time, invest your time, your talent and your treasures develop your influence and impact
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This idea of Mindset. The winners and losers at change had different ways of thinking about it. Both winners and losers said we hvae to get our people to change, but winners said first they had to change.- Al Comeaux
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