“We want change.”

That’s what I keep hearing. But where do you start? If you’re a leader who is trying to help her team see that things can’t go on the way they always have, then keep reading.

I learned from David A Fields that there are a handful of questions consultants should ask when they meet an organization about to undertake a journey.  I’ve adapted that list and it sits on a yellow sticky on my desk.  Here are the three most critical questions I ask:

First question: why now?

You need to be able to name what’s going on.  What problems are you experiencing? What opportunities do you see? And if you’re part of a team, your team has to be able to articulate it as well.

One recent exchange that was not satisfying went like this:

“So, why do you feel the need to invest in change right now?” (me)

“Well, why not? It’s always a good time to invest in the team, right?!”  (CEO)

***Warning Bells ***

My spidey-sense went up when I heard this, because it wasn’t a straight answer.  It told me that there were barriers in place.  I knew I had more work to do to really understand the motivation.

Second question: what does better look like?

You must know how things could be different in the future. If you can’t articulate it, then no one can.  Here are some really good answers that CEOs and Executive Directors have shared with me in just the past 6 weeks:

“We will all know our north star.”

“We will have a plan.”

“We will be able to choose between the many opportunities – and distractions – thrown at us.”

Third question: how will we know we are better?

You might think this is similar to question 2, but this actually focuses on the metrics for success.  Again, here are some of my favorite recent answers to this:

“I will have our plan in my hand during board meetings and reference it – so that we all can remember our goals and see the progress.”

“The survey I give my board will indicate they have greater confidence in their ability to fulfil their role.”

If you’re a leader seeking change, the first step is to ask yourself these three questions, and then reflect on your answers in dialogue with others.