The leader’s ability to lead change is one of the most essential requirements of effective leadership. This is because change is inevitable. Agile and learning organizations initiate change to improve and grow. Other organizations will be forced to change under pressures of their changing environments.
But what competencies are needed for leading change? How do leaders manage change successfully? These are valid questions to ask if you are thinking about initiating change at your organization. Let’s explore this.
The ability to envision a different future is rudimentary to creating and leading change. Leaders must have the passion and ability to imagine new possibilities and new heights of success for their organizations. Yet, envisioning is not enough. Exemplary leaders concisely communicate their vision while inspiring and engaging their teams.
- Communicate the kind of future you want to see. Clarify what this vision means for the organization, for the staff, and most importantly for the clients. Demonstrate how this imagined future ties in to the organization’s values and overarching priorities.
- Convey how this vision can be achieved. Communicate the what and the why. Identify consequences of not taking on change. Clearly state the priorities so everyone in the team knows their priorities and roles in the process. When people have information, it provides a sense of ownership that allows them to make decisions and decide on the best course of action accordingly.
Exemplary leaders inspire their teams. Inspiring a shared vision, however, requires collaborative leadership which takes us to the next leadership quality to lead through change.
Fostering collaboration, within the organization as well as with external stakeholders, strengthens the organization to transition through change successfully. It also enables the organization to take advantage of opportunities and resources available to it. The constant changing world we live in makes it vital to have access to wide range of knowledge networks that allow for sharing of information and skills.
But how do you foster collaboration?
- Practice curiosity and hear the different concerns and suggestions offered. Value the diversity of thinking and approaches. Listen to learn and be ready to change your position when new facts are presented.
- Build meaningful relationships with internal and external stakeholders. Also facilitate relationship and team building within the organization by planning and coordinating purposeful activities. These are activities that further your organization’s vision and values while offering growth opportunities and strengthening teams’ relationships. Facilitating relationships is an essential component of fostering collaboration.
- Share information strategically and frequently. Share progress reports even if no new progress has been made. As you assess and evaluate progress, share lessons learned.
- Acknowledge how each person’s contribution has advanced the project and celebrate small wins. This reaffirms everyone’s impact while reinforcing collaboration. Not to mention change can be exhausting so celebrating milestones helps refuel everyone.
“If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message” (Kouzes and Posner: The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations )
The last element of effectively leading change has to do with who the leader is, and how they demonstrate their values.
Just as values are the guiding principles for the organization, values of a leader guide their actions. For a leader to be believed and followed, they must demonstrate their values with clarity. Stating values requires an understanding of the self and clarification of one’s principles. When leaders face obstacles along the way, their values will ground and guide them. Clarification of values also enables leaders to make informed decisions when there is a conflict between their values and those of the organization.
The literature is clear on the relationship between the values of the leader and effective leadership. Research indicates that it is essential for leaders to be aware of and be able to articulate their values. Without a strong sense of self awareness, leaders are likely to lack the commitment and the integrity associated with outstanding leadership.
Successful implementation of change is directly impacted by the communication style, approach, and values of the leader. Change efforts that fail, because of a lack of effective leadership, can leave the organization wounded for years to come. Consequently, the ability of leaders to lead through change successfully is fundamental to the health and productivity of organizations.
So do you have what it takes to lead change?
Leadership skills can be learned. Accordingly, investing in honing your skills is a good strategy. Still, one’s leadership style is also determined by their personality and values. So gain self awareness in order to enhance and utilize your desirable personality traits. Furthermore, clarify and live your values so you can lead authentically.
If you need support managing or implementing change at your organization. Get in touch. We love supporting organizations reach their potential.