The 4 Ps for Leading Change

Posted by CLO Staff on Mar 14, 2017 6:13:00 AM

If you want to be an effective leader, a number of skills will help you on your path to success. It’s important to focus on and develop these skills if you want to lead change within your institution or in the world.

James Dallas, author of “Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change: Inspire People and Succeed Where Others Fail,” outlined a framework for four groups of skills a true leader needs, which I think has real merit.

You need the four Ps: priorities, politics, perseverance and people. Dallas is a change leader who has spurred massive growth in two multibillion-dollar companies. His leadership framework is part of his success, and it can help anyone who wants to be a global leader. I’ve summarized his framework below. Think about which of the outlined skills you may need to work on.

Priorities: For a leader, having priorities means putting your vision into practical terms. To be a great leader, you need to be able to see where you are, to determine where you want to be, and then outline the steps you need to take moving forward. Once you have that course in mind, you’ll need to convey it to the people who will be helping you. You should establish a core team, and make sure they understand your plan of action and your expectations.

Politics: Being a great leader means leading other people. You can’t create significant change by yourself. For a global leader, politics require communicating effectively and motivating other people to take part in your goals. You’ll need to create a message that inspires other people to act. As you progress toward change, you’ll need to keep your team involved and motivated. Along the way, you may have to overcome resistance, either through persuasion or compromise. Keep in mind that strong writing, speaking and networking skills will help you to be an effective communicator and develop the political ties you need for success.

People: Accomplishing change, whether it’s within a single business department or an entire country, means spending a lot of time working with people. You’ll need to fine-tune your people skills. The first essential skill is establishing trust and building connections with people. This will help you to create a team and get the support you need. Identify who are the key players in an institution and work on building relationships with them. It’s also important to be able to read individual people and group dynamics. This means knowing when to push someone vs. when to back off, quickly identifying sources of tension and sensing how to motivate a group. These are nuanced skills, but they will greatly help you to work with others and accomplish change.

Perseverance: Leading change isn’t easy. There are going to be roadblocks and challenges along the way, and you’ll need perseverance to see your goals through to the end. When problems arise, you’ll need to take care of them consistently. You’ll also need to take care to manage your team. While you may be motivated, others may lose energy and patience for your project over time. It’s your job to keep your team moving forward. This may mean dealing with discontentment either from people on your team or from people resistant to change. Dealing with this discontentment tactfully will help you to continue making progress. Once you have accomplished your goal, remember that your job isn’t over. You’ll need to think about how to ensure your project’s long-term success, and how you can leverage the change you’ve created. A leader’s work is never over, so you’ll need to find an inner source of motivation to keep you going.

Now that you’ve read through Dallas’ four Ps of leadership, take some time to think about how they apply to your goals and your global leadership strategy. First, what is your priority? What change have you identified as a strategic imperative for global leaders? If you’re already working toward a goal, work on identifying the people or networks you need to successfully navigate the change process. Once you have a team, think about whether your team fully understands your goal. Finally, ask yourself if you are resilient enough to see the change process through to the end.