Four Things Smart Leaders Are Doing Today

When Harvard Business Review found that workplace learning was a common thread in the “Best Performing Companies In The World”, Leaders took notice. Building on that news, this Leader started the search for change management learning opportunities that were unique, yet proven. Imagine my surprise when a highly recommended program included a subject matter expert named: Lenny T. Lizard. Yes, a lizard? Intrigued, I contacted Lenny’s business partner, Kathy Dempsey, President of Keep Shedding! Inc., to learn more. As it turned out, Ms. Dempsey, an award winning author, keynote speaker and recognized “change expert”, has worked with several Fortune 500 companies. Her goal: to implement programs that ignite change in leaders. Follow along in our interview that covers four lessons you will enjoy.

Q: What is the philosophy of shedding? Why is this important and how did Lenny become your business partner?

Ms. Dempsey: Good questions and let’s start with Lenny. As background, Lenny was the result of a life-changing conversation with a colleague about his pet lizard that died because it didn’t shed his skin. Two transformational things happened that day: first he gave me a benchmark for my personal growth path so I had a metaphor “shed or you’re dead” featuring Lenny who has been a great listener, business partner, and vehicle for helping people. Second, it is remarkable how much lizards can teach us about growth and change. The first of four key lessons to share with tomorrow’s business professionals and organizations is that if they don’t shed they can become unhealthy and die.

Q:  Fantastic introduction. Can you tell us- what is the biggest barrier to shedding in today’s world of business?

Ms. Dempsey: Overcoming fear is the biggest barrier to shedding. Studies teach us that a staggering 95% of people say that fear is the number one thing that holds them back at work and in life. A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking for the Disney Corporation in Orlando. After experiencing an incredible backstage tour I was surprised to discover that Walt Disney was afraid of mice. So what did he do to face his fear? He embraced that fear and transformed it into his biggest professional success. Walt Disney chose to make his fear less scary. He added big ears, a fun playful face and named his fear: Mickey. The key lesson: when you resist facing your fear there is usually a price to pay – not only to you but also to others.

Just think for a moment, if Walt Disney had never faced his fear – there would be no Disney World. Can you imagine the millions of people being robbed of their happy childhood memories and family vacations?

Q: Fascinating. Can you share a few more lessons that can help leaders in their quest to conquer change management?

Ms. Dempsey: Definitely. Here are three more lessons:

Heighten your awareness  It is the key to any behavioral change. A good example of this would be learning to manage your energy, not your time. Your energy is critical for sustaining success.

Take a recharge break every 90 minutes  Research shows that in workplaces where regular breaks are encouraged, productivity increases and rates of sickness decrease.

Focus your energy on things you can control or influence  Why? Ask yourself – where do most of us waste our energy? On things we have no control over. A good reminder: make a conscious effort not to let control issues rob you of your precious time and energy. Instead, strive to focus only on the things that you have control over today.

Opportunity Which fear can you embrace in the next 10 days? Keep in mind that the cure for fear is – action. How can you take a page from Walt Disney’s life and make that fear your friend? Next, take a look at the short TED Talk with Nilofer Merchant that is part of this article. Her key lesson: Got a meeting? Take a walk. You may be surprised how fresh air can drive fresh thinking.

11 thoughts on “Four Things Smart Leaders Are Doing Today

  1. Alexander

    Excellent change management insight. Also enjoyed Nilofer Merchant’s TED talk video that you included in this article. Powerful.

  2. Karen Brownlee

    Walt Disney was afraid of mice? I had no idea… This article is full of good information. Thanks a bunch!

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