Adaptability lies at the very heart of what a great leader should be. The change leadership model has been borne out by this same need to face and overcome whatever obstacles one may encounter.
The one lesson that 2020 has taught us is that you can never have an action plan of what could possibly go wrong in the real world.
Starting from the pandemic to the #blacklivesmatter movement, today's leaders have faced some of the toughest challenges to date.
While some companies succumbed to the obstacles, others managed to withstand and grow even during such turbulent times. The difference between the two cases? Successful change leaders.
Change is dynamic, diverse, and often unpredictable. People seek a strong, reliable, and practical decision-maker who can help them navigate a complicated situation.
In times of crisis or transformations, successful change leaders make plans to align the long-term goals, remove barriers, and selflessly support their people. It is the reason why change leadership works wonders.
What Exactly Is Change Leadership?
First, ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.
Today's world is dynamic, fast-paced, and disrupted by a newer innovation every other day.
Traditional leadership methods couldn't hope to keep up with the workforce's transformations and the new business needs. This is where change leadership comes in.
The classic definition, according to Higgs and Rowland, is as follows:
Change leadership is the ability to influence and enthuse others through personal advocacy, vision, and the drive to access resources to build a solid platform for change.
Any change process should be strategy-driven and aim to involve employees of all levels and top management. These change programs are a result of identifying organizational needs or weaknesses and an attempt to remedy them.
A change leader will successfully lead their team through the change process and remain at the front line to face its consequences.
These leaders are straightforward, innovative, think of the long-term goals, and are always ready to take one for the team.
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6 Ways On How To Be A Successful Change Leader
Change leaders can be distinguished by these 6 things that they seem to do really well:
While all of us love a good success story, few are as inspirational as the one from Steve Jobs.
Although Jobs was neither particularly poor nor uneducated, what struck people's imagination is his vision of what Apple could be.
In layman's terms, being visionary is nothing more than the ability to look at the bigger picture.
Change leaders have the quality of visualizing the long-term organizational goals and aligning efforts to achieve them.
Effective leaders identify new opportunities for innovation and strive to arrange the resources, competencies, and tools to drive the change process forward.
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Leading the process of complex changes is like riding on a roller-coaster. While the ups are undoubtedly exhilarating, the downs are sudden and terrifying.
As a leader, people will obviously look upon you to lead them through a process of ongoing change. Conversely, doing things differently will face resistance from others in the company.
It is a matter of convincing people to invest the time, energy, and efforts in a venture they are not interested in.
Thus, change leaders have to have firm resolve, determination, and confidence in standing by their visions.
First, find where the resistance is coming from. This step is about understanding why there is resistance to the proposed change. After understanding where it's coming from, it's a matter of addressing those concerns.
This is where the second step comes into play.
Instead of just relying on employee feedback, seek to involve them directly in the change project.
For a smooth change deployment, people have to feel like they were a part of the process. Also, it might help you in gathering newer perspectives that you haven’t considered.
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To lead change efforts, a change leader must be intuitive to the present conditions of the company and the workforce.
The company culture, the state of engagement, the budget and resources- and more factors will impact the success of the change project.
Successful change leaders know "when" to appeal or introduce the concept of a new change.
They dedicatedly study the workplace dynamics and recognize what kind of efforts and manpower will be required to support the change.
Being intuitive enables change leaders to recognize and avoid the problems that can significantly hamper the transformation.
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Initiating a new change process is a long and tedious task. A change leader should be able to adapt to the challenges that come along the way.
Change leaders don't see change as a one-time event. They know that every minor transformation can cause major disruptions across the organization.
Thus, no real-world change process is implemented in haste or without proper planning.
Any change management role requires a certain level of multitasking.
There is also a need to have a detailed strategy outlining all the necessary resources, technologies, tools, schedule, and budget.
There is the added responsibility of guiding people through the change once it gets deployed. Additionally, a successful change leader will continuously monitor the progress and pay attention to any triggers of what may go wrong.
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5. Great Communicator
For any change effort, good communication plays an integral role.
As discussed before, any change will be met with resistance.
Successful change leaders should adequately communicate how the change strategies will impact the company's short and long-term goals.
It is also necessary to highlight "why" the change is required, i.e., the current weaknesses hampering the business' success.
To drive change, a great deal of convincing is required. It's not only the employees who seek reassurances but the top management as well.
Thus, a change leader must cultivate good communication skills to drive the objectives of the change process and the efforts required to achieve it.
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6. Prioritizes Collaboration
Change cannot be achieved through individual efforts only.
Team effort and collaboration are a vital part of achieving the desired results.
As a change process will most likely affect multiple workplace sections, driving and managing such a process require cross-functional team collaboration.
A large part of change leadership is about unifying individuals' efforts to ensure a smooth change deployment.
A change leader should motivate, influence, and manage a team to drive better collaborative performance.
Change can be both internal and external. While internal changes can be managed through leadership practices, external factors can be highly disruptive. An excellent example of an external trigger is the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is only a single option for every employee to band together and guide their efforts towards getting past the obstacles in case of such external triggers.
Here, collaboration is perhaps the most crucial tool that any organization can have.
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Do you think that the change leadership model can be a game-changer for your business? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.