There’s leading through normal times, and then there is leading your organization through a change. You might be tempted to say that there’s no difference between change leadership and everyday leadership, but that isn’t the case. Change leadership has its own demands and requires a different mindset and an extra set of capabilities in order to lead your organization to a new place.
Everyday Leadership vs. Change Leadership
Everyday leadership is not easy. The leader has to motivate employees, drive toward results, satisfy investors, and hobnob with partners and influencers. Now imagine that your organization is experiencing a change – great or small. Motivating and engaging employees through the everyday strife, coupled with changes to the status quo, can create chaos depending on how YOU respond to the change.
To put it into perspective, you might think of it as the difference between peacetime (normal) and wartime (change) leadership.
In peacetime, you are working toward goals and objectives that may have been in place for a while. It’s the same old, same old. And that’s okay — as long as people and the organization don’t become complacent, stale, and stagnant. These are times to train your employees, perfect your processes, and refine your business so that you’re operating at peak performance and capacity.
But when that’s not enough, it could signal that it’s time to change. It could be large or small, company-wide or contained within a business unit. Whatever the scope and scale, when leading the charge to a new objective, you become the catalyst, the driver, and the change agent. You need to inspire and motivate your troops to see beyond their current roles and the way they perform them to the end result of the changed organization.
Change leadership requires different skills and abilities beyond the norm (think of a turnaround CEO or manager), not the least of which is being able to manage your day-to-day activities while transitioning toward the changed business. You can’t really afford to take your eye off either ball (current or future).
Key Steps Toward Successful Change Leadership
While you might be energized and eager to take on your new change, put that gung-ho attitude on hold for a moment. You can’t just send the front-line sales reps and staff into battle. Switching metaphors, it’s a marathon, not a race. True, you can’t drag your heels and watch your competitors eat your lunch, but you also need to pace yourself and take the steps necessary to see the change through.
Create the Vision
Schedule a leadership onboard session. Get leaders together, and help them understand the need for change. Invite them to contribute and create a shared vision. This is a great opportunity to assemble your ambassadors to hear about the change, begin to devise a plan, and identify milestones and challenges along the way.
Create a change story together. By working through the steps with your leaders, you’re building joint ownership and commitment among a critical group that will help you to drive the change. You have your reasons for initiating the change, but by participating in this session, they will be able to adapt and tailor the story to resonate with their part of the business, making it more personal and concrete for the managers and employees in their units.
Own the Vision
While you are converting your layers of leaders to adopt and embrace the new vision and changes, you cannot delegate your role in the process. If you convey an attitude of “It’s out of my hands now; hopefully, they’ll see it through,” you will be letting them know that it’s not that important to you or the business. You must be passionate about the change and guide others at every opportunity until the change is complete.
Help your leaders connect the big picture to what the future will look like, and how will you get there. Let them be a part of that process so that they also feel some ownership over the change and the path to get there. Identify the key people in the group the rest of your leaders look up to and ensure they have buy-in for the change. Their staunch support will encourage the others to get onboard and stay the course.
Equip your leaders to “verify the degree of adoption” of the changed environment. Are employees doing what they’re supposed to be doing, or are they clinging to the old ways? How are you monitoring and measuring their progress? What support and resources do the leaders and their teams need to be successful?
If you or your employees are experiencing difficulties navigating change, Joy can help! It’s more than leading the change within your organization, it’s discovering the ONE thing that changes everything! For more information, contact Joy at Joy@MaximizeYourLeadership.com.
About Joy Humbarger
Joy, CEO and founder of Maximize Your Leadership, is considered to be one of Kansas City’s leading trainers and coaches on the ONE thing that changes everything! With more than 30 years of experience in the education and leadership fields, Joy is an expert in transforming mindsets to achieve better business results. She is the author of “Coaching the F___!! Out of Change,” a chapter in The Change11, a national collection of tips and stories to empower others to take their leadership to the next level. She provides individual and group leadership coaching. To schedule a training, workshop or consultation with Joy, email Joy@MaximizeYourLeadership.com.