How to Make Leadership Development a Grassroots Movement

Guest post from William Seidman and Richard Grbavac:

Have you ever heard (or said): “I just wish I could clone
that person.” Being able to clone the best people in an organization would have
tremendous value for any organization.

Though actually cloning
people may not be a scientific reality just yet, we do believe that everyone can be transformed into a top performer.
In our forthcoming book, The Star
Discover What Your TopPerformers Do Differently–and Inspire a New Level of Greatness in All”
we show how the star performers in an organization can serve as the basis of
grassroots change throughout an entire company.

Top-Down or

In general, there are two types of approaches to change in
an organization: top-down and bottom-up. In the past, organizational
development has relied on executives at the top to drive cultural change. In
most cases, though, this approach produced disappointing results. Executives
may be able to initiate change
efforts, but for change to be sustained, each and every individual in an
organization must embrace change.

A much more effective and meaningful approach starts by
changing individual behaviors and values, one person at a time. The challenge
is to change sufficient numbers of people fast enough and completely enough to
transform the character of the entire organization.

Achieving “Critical

The first step is to identify the attitudes and behaviors of
the star performers. What makes them great? Next, every person in the
organization is encouraged and inspired to adopt these attitudes and behaviors.
When all employees practice these behaviors until they become a natural part of
everyday life, a “critical mass” of change causes the organization as a whole
to transform.

Even though the change is centrally driven, participants are
given a sense of ownership. When enough people perceive the change this way and
are functioning in the new mode, comprehensive grassroots change can take
place, and the entire organization is rapidly and systematically transformed.

The Affirmative
Transformation Model

Using recent
advances in four areas of research, we have created a four-part model of
organizational change:

1. Set the
bar. The first step in a grassroots change model is to develop a clear,
comprehensive picture of the desired outcome by leveraging the wisdom of the
top performers. Simply put, identify exactly what your top performers do


2. Motivate
individual change. The passion and sense of purpose that drives the star
performers is contagious. When others witness and come to understand this
passion and purpose, they are motivated to become more like the stars.

3. Sustain
the change. Through engaging learning tasks, each person practices the new
attitudes and behaviors until they become a natural part of everyday life.

4. Scale to
the enterprise. An organization drives enough individual change to reach a
critical mass of change, causing the organization as a whole to transform.

Since 1996, we’ve been using a grassroots organizational
change approach—with astounding success—in different industries and countries.
By starting with the knowledge, wisdom and passion of your star performers, a
grassroots change movement can blossom, one in which everyone is inspired to change.

Author Bios:

Dr. William Seidman, CEO and President
of Cerebyte, is a recognized expert on management decision-making in
high-performing organizations. He is particularly known for understanding the
processes required to identify and use expert wisdom in order to inspire
organizational performance improvements.

Richard Grbavac joined Cerebyte as Vice
President in 2002. Grbavac has more than 25 years of experience in sales,
marketing and organizational development, and he was involved in managing sales
groups and re-engineering corporate structure and culture at industry-leading
organizations such as Jantzen and VF Corporation.