Great leadership is the number one factor that determines the success or failure of organizational change, and our goal is to help you maximize your effectiveness when leading change.
Before you address the leadership actions needed during change, seek wholistic understanding by answering the following questions:
- What is the change? This isn’t the action that you are taking – change is the difference between the way things are today and how you intend for them to be in the future.
- Why does the change matter? Why is the change happening?
- Who is being impacted, directly or indirectly, by the change?
- How significant is the change to the people being impacted? This is from their point of view, not yours. Sometimes it’s easy to assume the change is insignificant because you see it from a different vantage point.
- When is the change taking place? While one change may seem rather minor, when it’s happening in the midst of other changes the impact is compounded. There are limited resources for adopting change – be careful how you use up your people’s change capacity.
Once you’ve established a clear understanding of the change, here are some considerations for successfully leading through it:
- Uncertainty drains productivity. When your people are uncertain about the future or the change, it significantly impacts productivity. While you may not have all the answers, it’s important to share progress and create some certainty.
- Data doesn’t have meaning until you make it. Too many change messages contain lots of data that gets lost on the recipient. Without context, content is confusing. So take the time to clearly and effectively share the story behind the data and make meaning.
- Begin with the reader / listener in mind. When you are sharing the change with others, remember who they are and what matters to them. Speak in their language, not yours. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart” (Nelson Mandela). The language of the heart is the language of change.
- Beware of the Curse of Knowledge – once you know something, it’s hard to remember not knowing it! It’s very easy to assume that everyone else knows what you know. So be aware when you share that being abstract creates more confusion than clarity. Beware of knowledge imbalances, and don’t make assumptions about what others do or do not know.
Leadership is the magic ingredient for successful change. The best processes, methods and tools cannot overcome a lack of great leadership.