If you hadn’t heard, there is a presidential election this year.  My home state of Iowa kicked off the primary (caucus) season on February 1st.   The crescendo of political ads and multitude of candidate visits since the process began is finally silenced for now, and my family and friends who live there are glad for the reprieve.

And, for anyone who hasn’t figured it out, elections are about change.   Candidates stump for what they will do to fix what is wrong, and make “things” better for us.  Is this selling change or leading change?  I haven’t heard a politician yet who is not talking about what they will change, based on their ideology and view on how “it” can be better for us with their vision of change.  We are electing a leader, but is the pool of candidates selling change or showing us how to lead change?

So if we think about elections in the context of change, what are some of the key points we see?

  • Virtually all candidates talk about the urgency of change. They plead their case, and enumerate their platform points, to increase the urgency for change.  As we experience with any change initiative, some of the electorate buy-in to it, and some don’t.
  • Candidates build a campaign staff and strategy, which serves as their guiding team. However, does the team reflect only the ideology of the candidate, or does this guiding team reflect other inclusive perspectives which might aid in the receptiveness of the change strategy and message, and lead to success?
  • Candidates have vision, their vision, but is it the right vision? The guiding team is key to help provide all the perspectives to get the vision of change right.  If the team doesn’t get the vision right, change will likely fail.
  • We know the candidates communicate, and communicate, and communicate: Ads, phone calls, mailers, ads, emails, texts, ads.  They work to perfect their message so it resonates with the electorate, which builds buy-in, engagement and support for their vision of change.  Or if the message of change is not right, maybe not.
  • And as we saw in Iowa, some celebrate their wins, and others’ visions of change fail.

In an election, we have options of change from which to select.  This is not always the case in our law firms or legal departments when a change initiative is mandated.  And when this happens, how do we manage the process to increase the sense of urgency, build a guiding team, ensure our vision is right, and communicate the why, how, when and results we will see, and perhaps need?  As leaders, do we think about empowering others to action, versus it is our vision of change and we overlook the creative knowledge and ideas of members of our organizations who can shape the change for success?  Do we celebrate the success of change, or focus on the failures?

Just as an election campaign must manage the process, so must change be managed to ensure greater likelihood of success.  Change is not just an idea, it is a process, and if managed well, can lead to a much greater likelihood of success.   So as you observe the campaigns for president in action, think about change in your law firm or legal department and how well you approach it?   Are you selling change, or leading change?


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About Judy Hissong

Judy Hissong is the President of Nesso Strategies. A former law firm Chief Operating Officer, she helps firms become more profitable by developing leaders. Her mission is “world domination for Good.” By creating actionable, lightbulb moments that leaders want to share and spread, she intends to improve the world one person at a time.

Judy Hissong