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Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change by H. James Dallas

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Chapter 2Create the Core Team

When I look for leadership to helm a change project, I'm not really looking for hotshots. I'm not looking for average. Often what I'm looking for is the person who others think is a weak link.

Why? That's the person who has something to prove.

Earlier I told you how I was almost fired—and ultimately promoted—while on a freight-rating project at Georgia-Pacific. The story continues.

Being assigned to the project in the first place had been a crushing booby prize. Management had let it slip that all the A and B players in the company would, going forward, be working on projects to convert all of our IT systems to the latest state-of-the-art computer technology. Freight, meanwhile, would remain on the old mainframe. In other words, my assignment there was the signal that I wasn't considered the best or the brightest.

Still, I had faith in myself. Instead of accepting defeat, I threw myself at the project 100 percent. Ironically, the fact that it was still on the mainframe turned out not to be a booby prize at all. Because there was no new technology to learn, I focused on getting to know the people, and those relationships created the model for my success strategy going forward. I met with the key players using the system. They taught me everything about transportation, rail, trucking, and freight, and I took the time to build relationships. Just as the project meant more to me than “a job,” they meant more to me than “employees.” Ultimately, we got ...

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