About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S. NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 coun- ties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innova- tive solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.

Don’t let actions get ahead of culture

Story by Tim Rahschuite, PH.D. For County News

Aristotle’s fervor in explaining it with such palatability. In business and in life, even change brought about by a lead- er with a clear vision and proper planning can be fraught with risk and challenge. It’s for this reason that most efforts to bring about a new order of things fail. Te odds of success are usually worse than the odds of fail-


ure. As David Pottruck, a former chief executive officer at Charles Schwab, said, when it comes to change, “the deck is stacked against you.” Regardless of the odds, most actions you take as a leader are in an effort to change the status quo to something better. Tis effort is necessary for anyone or any team, organization, or community hoping to keep pace in an increasingly competi- tive and complex world that is constantly changing. Nothing and no one survives, let alone realizes mild achievement or es- pecially great success, without vision, preparation, and action to change. Business author Alan Deutschman reminded us of this fact, noting our option to either “Change or Die,” which was the title of his FastCompany article. Grim … but true. While you may think your organization — and the people

within it — could change when it matters most, Deutschman warns that “you’re probably deluding yourself.” Decades of re- search confirm that only a small handful of change efforts are ever truly successful. If individual and cultural resistances to

ristotle said, “Change in all things is sweet.” From some perspectives, that may be true, but if you’ve ever expe- rienced periods of big transformation or massive and disruptive change, you may very well take issue with

change are greater than the compelling vision of the future and how to get there, the change will fail. Te truth is, if there’s limited dissatisfaction in the current state of things, lackluster vision of a possible future state, and ambiguous or overly zeal- ous steps to get there, cultural and human resistance will over- come the effort to realize the envisioned change every time. In addition to making sure there’s sufficient dissatisfaction in the current state, clarity in the vision of the future state, and proper preparation in the planned steps to get there, leaders can also increase their probability of success by en- suring their actions don’t outpace the readiness of their teams or enterprise of employees. Because any effort to realize a vision likely requires people to operate on the fringe of their capability and bring about new ways of performance and behaving, the best leaders know not to go too far beyond that fringe too quickly; other- wise, they end up in the fear zone, which will fuel significant resistance and freeze action. As you go about any aspect of change, you’ve got to make

sure the path of change is aligned with a readiness to change. Any time you get change ahead of your employees’ readiness, you’re going to have problems. So be aware of the current state of change readiness, and don’t get your actions to bring about some change ahead of the employees’ readiness to act in sup- port of that change.

Tim Rahschulte is the CEO of the Professional Development

Academy and chief architect of the NACo High Performance Lead- ership Program ( He is the co-author of “My Best Advice: Proven Rules for Effective Leadership.”

75 Counties - One Voice COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2019 49

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