6 Steps To Effective Change Leadership

3256212725Leadership, at its most basic level, is about change.

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.


Related Content:

1.  How to Lead Change:  3 Simple Steps (www.forbes.com)

2.  Leadership Lessons:  5 Critical Requirements When Leading Change (www.lisapetrilli.com)



5 Ways We Disappoint as Servant Leaders (and Disengage the People We Want to Serve)

Boy sad picAll the best intentions don’t really amount to much if we don’t deliver on the basics of team leadership.    Here are some things guaranteed to disappoint the very people we want to serve:

1.  Unclear/No Goals:   Nothing frustrates folks more than working hard on something only to find they are working on the wrong thing, they are off course, or working counter to other members of the team. It has to be a constant discipline to discuss, clarify,  and drill down to the specifics of the targets the team works toward.   OK, sometimes we need more info to better set goals. Fine, but then the work to understand the target better is a goal unto itself.

2.  Overpromising and Underdelivering for Our People:  Many leaders have lots of positivity and optimism, and  tend to view the impossible as possible,  and underestimate the difficulty of things.  Sound like you?  Admit to yourself the danger here.  If you promise something, you have to deliver, or your credibility is shredded and the whole servant leader thing is a joke.  And the small things matter a ton.  So stop over-promising.  And if things change and you just can’t deliver, communicate like crazy and offer an alternative.

3.  Bricks without Straw:  There is a certain amount of equipment and resources that are needed to do the job, to deliver on promises, to meet objectives.  Make sure you provide or see that it is provided.  Don’t be cheap on things that can multiply the effectiveness of your team, or provide basics such as safety and security.  Those kind of things always repay many times over.

4.  Going Open Loop – No Performance Feedback:   Folks can’t learn, and progress, and figure out how best to do hard things without quality communication on how things are going, how they are doing against goals.  You should  setup clear ways that someone can easily tell how they are doing, and your voice must be a big part of this feedback.  Close the loop.  It is not micromanaging to coach, mentor, and accelerate learning!

5.  Tolerate mediocrity or worse:  sometimes folks just are not getting it, there is not a good fit, the situation is wrong  and one or more team members are, in the presence of quality feedback, not able to move out of mediocrity.  Be compassionate, but for the sake of the team make a change.  This can be uncomfortable to do and potentially disruptive, but letting it go on is like a slow poisoning.

I am no perfect example in these areas – it requires constant striving and exertion to avoid these traps.  But the effort multiplies the effectiveness and joy of the people on your team.