Leaders create change, help others adapt to change, and affect the nature and type of change. Think back through your experience – have you seen great leadership without change, or the possibility of change? Situations without some kind of change usually involve degrading, diluting, and otherwise moving the wrong way.
Why is it then, that so many leaders resist change? Change brings challenges, and so well-intentioned people naturally want low-risk change – change that appears to be a clear win. But here is the danger. The lowest risk change also brings the lowest potential benefit. In a business, a small tweak to the organization or a minor change to a product will not impact performance much. A new package for a corn flakes box is not going to make corn flakes the new rage. A new fender shape for a 15-year old car design does not make us rush out to buy it.
Recognize that resisting change, or only supporting low risk change, has a significant cost of its own, the cost of missed opportunity. A better course is to engage in change, help direct change – influence the direction of change actively to ensure maximum positive impact.
6 Steps for Effective Change Leadership:
1. Get over it! Change is going to happen. Resist that emotional reaction, the frown, the negative body language the declares immediately you are not on board. Actively seek to understand the positive.
2. Develop your own plan for positive change. Call it vision, strategic planning, program management – whatever you want. To lead effectively you need to have your a sense of where you want your team/organization/life to go. This vision will drive the kind of change you create. And, when change occurs, this vision will guide you in how to engage, how to respond – since times of change are always, always, opportunities.
3. Communicate, communicate – then communicate some more. Whether you are leading the change, or you are helping your team adapt to change, communication is your primary tool. Explain the reason for the change, acknowledge uncertainties, and ask for support and ideas for how to ensure the most positive outcome. Make sure every person affected is part of this conversation. This kind of communication is not a one-time thing – continue the dialogue.
4. A Plan for Change, well, changes! Be prepared to course correct. Whatever you think is going to happen in a period of change, you are wrong. Stay agile, be prepared to adjust your thoughts, messages, and actions.
5. Help the team learn. Even in the midst of change, as the team makes it through key milestones, wins, or even difficulties – get everyone together to discuss what has happened, strengths that need to be emphasized, and adjustments that need to be made. My blog post concerning Team debriefs is worth another look – Here.
6. When people turn negative or become discouraged – communicate even more. Change can be harder for some than others.
We can all benefit from a more intentional focus on vision, action, and communication in times of change. Amplify your leadership impact by taking advantage of the opportunity that change brings.
1. How to Lead Change: 3 Simple Steps (www.forbes.com)