Archives October 2021

Monsters Under The Bed – How To Remove The Bogey Man From Organizational Change

People Fear Change!

Just like they fear monsters under the bed …

or behind the closet door …

or what lurks down those cellar steps.


Two reasons:

  1. We can’t see what’s there so our imagination fills in the blanks … As kids we imagined monsters, as adults we don’t like change so we imagine job loss, upset and disaster.
  1. Like a horror movie we know that the first person to go down those stairs is going to get killed …Most of us have lived through a change management exercise they did not go well and we ended up worse off than when we started.

Watch the Vlog to see how we as leaders can take fear out of the equation and give our hopes and aspirations for organizational change the best chances for success.


I participated in racism because I didn’t say anything. How you can be courageous enough to say something.

Before you read the article below, I wanted to frame the post with this personal note:

Many know I served as an infantryman in the Canadian Army. Years ago, on a training exercise, we had soldiers from another unit attached to us, one of which was an Inuit from Nunavik (Northern Quebec).

His section commander seemed like a good soldier and appeared to be very good at his job, but to be clear, he was a terrible human being and a racist.


Several times I overheard him call the Inuit soldier a ‘Tundra N-Word.’

But I stepped back and didn’t say anything.

I out-ranked the commander by several grades, I was the senior person in every sense of the word, and quite frankly I was an equal participant in racism at work because I didn’t say anything.

I failed that young man and set a poor example for every other soldier who saw what was going on.

I put my head down and failed to lead with Moral Courage.

Now is not the time for you to put your head down.

Now is the time to approach issues like Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racism protest with humility and hard truths delivered kindly.

When you see systematic and blatant racism, find the moral courage to face and address it with Moral Courage.


      • Read the article on Moral Courage below.
      • Share the survey with your full team.
      • Be courageous and hold small group conversations about times when your people have seen times when your organization has not lived with Moral Courage when it comes to fairness and systemic racism.
      • Now do the hardest thing you will ever do … shut up, sit there and listen.
      • Then commit to improving.

Now is not the time to put your head down.

Take care, be well and be safe.


“Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.  —  Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961), A Farewell to Arms


Most military training is the epitome, the living embodiment, of the first line of Hemingway’s quote. It is the underpinning of the regimental system: an undying fidelity to your Regiment, your colleagues and comrades. Add in great leadership, and this fidelity is what allows a body of soldiers to accomplish great things.

Why? Because anyone cold, wet, hungry or afraid may well be tempted to give up; because you are only letting yourself down. But, that same cold, wet and frightened person would rather a slow painful death than let down friends, colleagues and comrades.

But when something is going wrong, that fidelity can become a terrible hurdle to scale when you are standing up for your ethical beliefs. When you stand up, there are perceived or actual risks of stress, anxiety, isolation from colleagues, or threats to employment. This moral conflict can make you feel powerless to improper behaviour.


“You can live with pain. You can live with embarrassment. Remorse is an awful companion.” – Senator John McCain


Often organizational cultures and constraints make doing the right thing difficult or impossible. How are you, or your organization, doing at removing the barriers to morally courageous behaviour? Try this simple exercise: Rank your thoughts from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) for these questions:

  • I/We encourage dialogue around ethical behaviour and actions every day.


  • My colleagues have the moral courage to take action when called on.


  • ‘Whistleblowing’ may be seen as the equivalent of being a ‘rat,’ a ‘tattle-tail’ or that you are letting down your friends & colleagues.


  • I/We face issues and problems face on every day.



What would do to improve any one of those scores by 1 point?

How do you encourage moral courage in your actions and the actions of those around you? developed the mne­monic CODE to help to remember what steps to take when you face a moral dilemma:

C: Courage

The first step is to critically evaluate the situation to determine whether moral courage is needed to address it. Morally courageous people know how to use valid and objective information to determine whether a situation warrants further exploration.

O: Obligations to honour

When caught in a moral dilemma, you should self-impose a purposeful time-out for reflection to help determine what moral values and ethical principles are at risk or are being compromised. And to consider: What’s the right thing to do? What principles need to be expressed and defended in this situation?

D: Danger management

What do you need to do to manage your fear of being morally courageous? This step requires the use of cognitive approaches for emotional control and risk-aversion management. During this step, explore possible actions and consider adverse consequences associated with those actions. To avoid becoming overwhelmed when deciding how to act, focus on one or two critical values.

E: Expression

The “E” in CODE stands for expression and action through assertiveness and negotiation skills. Knowing one’s obligations and demonstrating specific behaviours can enable you to move past your fear and serve as an active patient advocate,

Three things you can do to supporting moral courage:

  1. Share the CODE mnemonic with your peers and team,
  2. Host a lunch & learn or use a staff meeting to talk through hypothetical situations,
  3. Demonstrate Moral Courage in each of your actions. Click here to read more about Walking the Walk.

The fact that you are a leader will create complex moral and ethical dilemmas, and you will inevitably have to demonstrate moral courage.

As a leader, YOU are accountable for providing the best possible leadership – so you better get used to the fact that it is not always easy or fun.

John Wayne once said: “Courage is being scared to death—and saddling up anyway.”


Do you want to go deeper and learn more?  Contact me, and we can begin the conversation.

Don’t Be Satisfied After Your Thanksgiving Turkey … Take The 7 Step Leadership Checkup

Robert Hartley is the Head Coach of the Calgary Flames. A rookie member of the Flames had a great game and scored his first NHL goal. Asked by a reporter if he was happy for that player’s big night, I recall him responding: Of course I am happy for all of my players when they have a good game, but I am never satisfied!

Do you know when I feel satisfied?

When I am all fat & full and sleepy after a huge turkey dinner.

I was always happy for my team members when they closed a big deal, nailed a project, or just had a great day. I drew great energy from their enthusiasm and loved to see them grow & bloom. But I was never 100% satisfied because I knew they could always do more and do better.

I knew that the seeds of complacency would be sown by allowing myself to be satisfied with their accomplishments. That is the path to becoming the ultimate mediocrity.

If a person or department seems to be running on autopilot, then a curse of satisfaction & complacency has set in. As every aspect of business is a work in progress, you and your team should be continually looking to improve performance, learn, find self-improvement, do things better, and improve skills and abilities.

Great leaders embrace the process of discovery by never giving up the quest for information. They control their destiny so that no one else controls it for them. They are never 100% satisfied as there is always room for improvement.

Here are seven indicators to show you when You shouldn’t be satisfied with your leadership:

  1. Nothing is being changed. Leadership is about something new. It’s about change. If nothing is changing — you can do that without a leader.
  1. No paradigms are being challenged. Many times the best change is a change of mindset — a way we think. Leaders are constantly learning so they can challenge the thinking “inside the box.”
  1. You’re not asking questions. A leader only knows what they know, and many times, the leader in the last to know. A significant part of leadership is about discovery, and you only get answers if you ask questions.
  1. There are competing visions. Leaders point people to a vision. To a crystal clear & singular vision. One of the surest ways to derail progress is to have multiple visions, as this divides energy & people and confuses instead of bringing clarity.
  1. No one is complaining. You can’t lead anything involving worthwhile change where everyone agrees. A sure-fire measure if people are being led if there is if people are complaining. We knew there was a problem in the Army when the soldiers went quiet and weren’t griping.
  1. People aren’t being stretched. Understand well; a leader should strive for clarity. But, when things are changing and challenging, there will always be times of confusion. That’s when good leaders get even better at communicating and listening.
  1. People being “happy” has become the goal. Everyone likes to be liked. But, the end goal of leadership should be accomplishing a vision — not making sure everyone loves the leader. Progress hopefully makes most people happy, but when the goal begins with happiness, in my experience, no one is ever really made happy.

Keeping a laser-like focus, all the time, on your objectives and never drifting from the big picture is key to extraordinary leadership …, not satisfaction.

4 Risks That Will Sink Your Change Management Plan – And  What To Do About Them

Whether you are hiring a new leader, implementing a new hybrid workplace model, merging, or executing a new strategy, managing change is critical to the success of any organization.

Read why hiring a new leader is ‘Change Management

In my experience, leaders spend too much time communicating the vision and the benefits of the change and not enough time talking about the ‘how’.

I have worked with dozens of clients to help identify the risks and craft a strategy to address them – to arrive at the organization’s new end state faster.

From my experience, here are the most common barriers to transformational change.

  1. Lack of a Communication Strategy That People Pay Attention to

When I asked middle managers and individual contributors whether they believed their organizations’ strategies were achievable, they scored 30% lower than executives due to poor communications.

When it comes to your communication strategy, an organization-wide email and prerecorded message won’t cut it. A recent Microsoft study on email open rates showed that only 40% of employees would read more than 30% of any internal email. Simply increasing the frequency of communications can further desensitize employees and thus doesn’t provide a solution.

Another critical factor in driving buy-in and engagement to organizational strategy changes is ensuring individual teams understand how their goals contribute to organizational success.

Big ideas need to be talked about and not read.

Read about being the Chief Reminder Officer

  1. Excluding Informal Leaders

Ensuring that your organization’s leaders are aligned and bought into the organizational change is critical to successful change management – but what about informal leaders not listed on your organizational chart? Informal Leaders can be found at all levels of an organization and frequently fly under the radar of executive leadership in large organizations. Informal Leaders often act as information brokers and influence how others perceive the organization, so they should be identified and carefully considered in your change management efforts.

Once you have identified your Informal Leaders, you can incorporate them into your change management strategy by creating a liaison and a change champions network and reaching out to them for bottom-up feedback. By combining their feedback early on, your organization can benefit from fine-tuning the tactical execution while also building buy-in and credibility for the efforts.

Read about the client who was 90% sure they would be on time & on budget

  1. Failing to Establish and Clarify New Working Relationships

Failing to establish new working relationships, ownership, and cultural norms often presents one of the largest sources of frustration in organizational change. Depending on the nature of the transformation, teams can experience massive changes in processes and working relationships that are difficult to predict and coordinate.

From a risk perspective, changed lines of communication and expectations create an environment where mistakes can happen due to a lack of coordination. Over the long term, poor coordination can lead to frustration, damaged relationships, and ultimately mistrust in leadership.

To prevent your organization from being blind-sided by operational risks and missed handoffs, consider running exercises about the impact of the change with the people undergoing change.

  1. Not Collecting Bottom-Up Feedback

In all large organizations, frontline employees have valuable insights that are frequently overlooked. During times of transformational change, your frontline can serve as real-time resources and feedback mechanisms to monitor the progress of your new initiatives or efforts.

From a risk perspective, failing to consider what is happening to your frontline will slow down your reaction time to new threats, lead to overestimating your company’s ability and lull you into a sense of false security.

In the long term, the risk is that your people will lose trust in leadership. Organizations with low trust in leadership frequently experience lower productivity, low psychological safety, high turnover, and stifled innovation.

Read about Trust

An organization undergoing transformation, by definition, changes over time – being vigilant in monitoring risk should go hand-in-hand.