Lead change, don’t just manage it

Learn to master change leadership, which is just as important – if not more so – than change management.

For decades, managing change has been a key necessity for organisations across the globe. Managing change is largely a reactive response to changes that occur, in order to make those changes work. Being able to manage changes ensures your business can effectively handle the circumstances brought on by internal and external events.

But simply managing change is not enough to make the most of opportunities on the horizon; we also need to be able to lead change.

What does ‘change leadership’ involve?

BEING PROACTIVE

To lead change is to be proactive. It’s thinking ahead and looking around – and asking yourself:

  • What do we need to do next, how do we need to change to be able to meet customers’ / the world’s needs to be successful?’
  • ‘What’s going on in the market, the world and the society I’m in? What do I need to be aware of?
  • What are the signs that things might be changing or that they should change?’

TAKING CONTROL

To lead change is to take control, which is a much better place to be in than feeling out of control. When you start to be proactive about change, you make it a very natural thing and potentially less threatening to your team members too.

INVOLVING YOUR TEAM

Another key aspect of leading change is to involve your team(s) in it. It’s not just the role of the leader to lead change. All team members can actively scan the world around them to understand the bigger picture and make better decisions for the team.

Here are some things you can do with your team specifically, to make this happen:

  • Discuss the questions above with your team
  • Create a detailed strategy and communication plan for your upcoming change, and a goal to recognise what you will achieve and why it’s important. This will allow you to review your progress and to measure the success of the change. And be prepared to adapt and adjust the plan as you progress through it
  • Slow down. You need to slow down to speed up the change. Leaders can sometimes operate at such speed, they are too far ahead of the rest of the team. Stop and reflect to ensure you are prioritising the changes, doing the right thing at the right time
  • Recognise that you are not at the same stage as others in relation to the change; sometimes as a leader you are one, two or three steps ahead of your team. Demonstrate empathy. Putting yourself into others shoes forces you to acknowledge where they are
  • Positively reinforce strengths. When change occurs, people often focus on what is wrong, not what is right. Using strengths is a powerful way of getting yourself and others through the change
  • Communicate the change curve and help people to understand the predictable stages and responses to change
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence. Be emotionally aware of the impact of the change. Have your emotional radar on so you can be aware of the effect of what you say and do at each stage
  • Communicate. It’s important to both listen and involve people
  • Ask your team members to anticipate changes too – make it a team effort to be attentive to the changing world around you and give input on what the future might hold

How people feel impacts how connected they are to the change and therefore if the change occurs. Remember that people are convinced in different ways and get the team involved in decision making.

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion”

Paulo Coelho

BEHAVIOURS

Behaviours are the differentiating factor in change.

They are the magic key to whether the change happens or not. To create change leadership, be proactive, reflective, positive, considerate and trustworthy. Show empathy, be sensible and demonstrate responsibility.

Don’t be afraid to be courageous, brave, open minded and cooperative. Try things and learn from the results. Most importantly, stop and celebrate the success you’ve created.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability has become a popular word in business, but very few organisations do it well. Sustainability is taking the big picture view, to consider all the complexities of business, and to consider the impact of decisions, actions and behaviours – not just now, but also in the future. It’s to think about the impact on the financial, human and natural resources a business needs to succeed – hence, creating sustainable, long-term success is something all businesses should aim for. Yes, sustainability leadership is change leadership too.

Author: Mandy and Elisabet

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