“If you use them to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different, you’re just more of the same.”

“Build a world that is different from the s~*~ one they’ve always known….. but if you use them (dragons) to melt castles and burn cities, you’re not different, you’re just more of the same.”

Those were the words of Jon Snow, arguably the rightful King of the North and I’m hoping ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, in the popular HBO show, Game of Thrones (GOT). His competitor at the time, Mother of Dragons, Daenerys, (pre love fest), asking ‘what should I do?’

So true the future kings words. Candid. Transparent. Honest. And aspirational. As leaders in today’s world we have a choice. To do good or right, or do bad in the name of good. And of course, sometimes good is perceived to be bad, like melting castles and burning cities during times one needs to rid a region of the infections of the old world. The point is, we have the choice. We make decisions that impact others and become good, right or bad.

Oftentimes decisions are perceived one way or the other, without all the facts. We all have situations where the right decision is made with facts not available to all, making the decision appear to be unintendedly bad.

I am finding that sometimes you actually do need to burn the cities and castles, but only after emptying them. Getting the population to move out, move along, and move into another world, and stopping them from returning to the old. To force people to behave differently, particularly when the war remains invisible, but there. To cause people to see the past is no longer a road to the future. Things must change in the short term to pave the way to long term benefits. Causing people to behave their way into the new world, rather than think it.

The challenge of course is enabling others to see the same. While as a leader we may know the consequences of no action, our people often do not, seeing only a bad decision in the vacuum of no information, misinformation, or having been unable to process the information and join the dots between facts and decisions. This is the case when faced with the need to reinvent. It’s tough to see the future and therefore tougher for people to come along.

The key is demonstrating transparency and candour and providing confidence we are headed in the right direction. Something I’ve learned fast in my new role. Over communicate because even with a great deal of communication, people don’t always join the dots, don’t always receive the communication and sometimes, simply don’t listen. Ultimately, leaderships issue, and an issue just the same.

While there will always be those whom don’t come along with you, in which case, take your last shot at bringing them on board and if it still fails, let them occupy someone else’s city. The critical thing is to make sure those you want along with you have some life support in the new world while they catch their breath after departing the old world.

Jon Snow had wise words for Daenerys. We can’t allow people to simply see more of the same. We can’t allow leaders to perpetuate more of the same, if that same world is not what will create success. We must contrast the old world with the new so people can see the difference, and demand our leaders to create a new world. A more prosperous one. One that is both better, and most importantly, different. Because doing things differently is what will get different results.

For me, as we reinvent Proudfoot, we are letting go of the old, leveraging what works, and looking forward with what we are inventing – new management approaches, innovative management systems and interesting new management processes. To do that, we’ll bring our teams along, bring in new talent, and sometimes we had to leave a few behind. And that’s OK. That’s how we are becoming different after 70 years. Not more of the same.

May you wrestle your chaos and win


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