Leading Edge

Lead Change Without Losing Hearts and Minds

Lessons from turning around a struggling company.

August 1, 2015

When trying to lead change, figure out what the company is doing right and do more of it, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman says in Stanford Business.

The former eBay CEO says she’s learned several lessons while working to turn around a struggling technology company, including:

  • Win the middle. Some members of your management team will get on board with your new approaches and some won’t. But it is the “inbetweeners” that matter if you want to accomplish your agenda.
  • Focus on what you’re doing well. If you just fixate on the negative, it will be hard to win staff’s hearts and minds.
  • Don’t fake it. You can’t be embarrassed to ask questions, she says.
  • Realize that symbolism matters. Results can take time, but it’s not hard to show of your values up front with strategic actions.
  • Align employees to strategy. People focus on what they’re getting paid to do, Whitman says, especially when you align financial incentives with company goals.