Sally Henderson
Powerful change from the inside out



The curse of Fingernail Focus


What is often messy, requires incredible courage of conviction, and generally throws the biggest curveballs just when you think you've nailed the whole thing?

C H A N G E.

Change is a challenging and somewhat frightening thing that requires a very aligned, motivated, and supportive senior leadership team - and not just one figure head - in order to be successful for both the business and its people. As without the all-important aligned team, the desired change will simply stall or even fall over altogether.

Let me share a recent story:

Over the past couple of months, I have been working with a senior C-Suite client who is driving a chunky piece of change in the agency they are leading. Let's call them "George".

George has already made massive inroads to change in terms of the culture, focus and growth, but now needs to take others with them deeper on the journey. However, despite previously saying that big change and investing in new talent is what they want and is needed to achieve their business goals, those George needs the support of are now expressing reluctance to change, and resisting things that are “new”. And very often, such characters turn out to be the original founders and owners.

Now, in the agency George is leading, the change is really taking shape and having an effect. Do you think the Founders are celebrating and supporting George by being an aligned, supportive and motivative team with the change that’s being achieved already? Well, you would think that, wouldn't you?

The Naked Truth is that the Founders are actively sabotaging change from the sidelines. They just don’t realise they are.

The Founders are displaying what I call “Fingernail Focus”, something that happens when there is a clash between change-related wants and needs on one side, and reality on the other.

So what do I mean by Fingernail Focus?

When a business - and its leaders - are on the cusp of change really taking place, they have to take the active choice of stepping off the cliff, fly into the unknown, and fully embrace all aspects of that change.

Yet, at this precise tipping point moment, leaders who are naturally more risk- and change-adverse, suddenly try to cling on with their finger-tips to what they know, what is safe and what is more predictable, even if it will cost them the end goal of making the change ambition happen successfully.

So how can you ensure Fingernail Focus does not sabotage change in your agency, whether the threat is coming from you as a Founder or your peers?

Follow my 3 C’s for Successful Change framework:

  • Be CLEAR
    On the core change you wish to bring about in your business, the benefit this will bring and your motivation for wanting it
    To invest in equipping those at the vanguard of change, ensuring they have the appropriate emotional range and leadership skill to keep the courage of conviction around the change, however senior their position.
    To seeing the change through: 
    1. Know what milestones you are aiming for - big AND small
    2. Agree how to navigate as a team when the inevitable challenges strike
    3. Plan how you will deliver on the change as an organisation, a team, a Senior Leadership Team, and as individuals.

Yes, change can seem scary, but it can also feel exciting! The difference between the two? Your very own levels of clarity, confidence and commitment! The good news? You can download your free copy of my 3 C's for Successful Change framework right here- any question, I'm just an email away!


sally henderson