What sets great organizations apart from others? Great leaders.

In an effort to become a better leader I have been studying how to lead organizational change. In previous posts I have created a foundation for change with My Why Statement, analyzed the six sources of influences to learn how personal, social, and environmental factors influence decision making, and analyzed the Four Disciplines of Execution to discover a better way to execute change. However, while these are great planning tools to lead an organization they do little to enhance the qualities of a great leader. For that, I continued my effort to become a better leader by reading Friedman’s Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix and Kerry Patterson’s Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High.

In Friedman’s Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, Friedman discusses qualities of great leaders. To be a great leader he states one must be self differentiated. This means understanding one’s limitations and knowing your specific role within your organization. Friedman also states it is important to control your emotions and warns us to avoid others who might bring you down. By accomplishing these efforts a leader is able to have clarity in their vision and actions, an essential trait in great leaders.

In addition to these qualities of a great leader, it is also important for leaders to be great communicators. In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Kerry Patterson describes the importance of removing emotion from the conversation when stakes are high. He creates a checklist to follow in order to accomplish this and aims to put thoughts into action through effective communication. The basic keys to effective communication are: be aware of when crucial conversations arise or could arise, recognize your feelings and lead with the facts of why you feel this way, respect the individual and remind them you have their best interest in mind as well as the organization, allow others to voice their opinion/concerns or offer solutions, and finally, agree and move forward into action. By following these steps leaders can improve communication and better support a talented, diverse staff.

Moving forward I am putting the lessons I’ve learned on leadership into action. One of the things I am focusing on is understanding my limitations: knowing when to help out/when to step back, knowing what my and my staff’s strengths and weaknesses are and how to utilize/avoid them. This will be specifically beneficial for implementing course websites as it will more evenly distribute the workload and allow talented people to utilize their talents. I hope by becoming better at delegating tasks I will relinquish some of the pressure from myself and distribute it to staff members that are better enabled than I. This will increase productivity and the quality of our products.

In addition to understanding my limitations I also plan to utilize crucial conversations to become an effective communicator. Not only will I use crucial conversation in my own conversations, but I plan to model how to use crucial conversations and extend the opportunity for staff to use the dialogue as well. This will have a positive impact on our organization. I hope by having crucial conversations I will better be able to disentangle differences, saving time and energy, and increase our organizations ability to collaborate more effectively.  In short, these actions will help me become a strong leader and will allow our organization to adopt course websites.

To continue the conversation on leading organizational change, follow the links below to discover more about how to lead an organization to adopt course websites.

Start with Why

Six Sources of Influence

Executing Change with the 4DX Model




Friedman, Edwin. (2007). A failure of nerve: leadership in the age of the quick fix. Seabury Books.

Patterson, Kerry. (2012). Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high. McGraw-Hill.


Image Source:

Ted Talks LLC. (2017). Playlist (12 talks): how to be a great leader. Found at https://www.ted.com/playlists/140/how_leaders_inspire. Accessed 8/20/2017.

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