Master change leadership not just change management

Written by
Changeboard Team

11 Feb 2016

11 Feb 2016 • by Changeboard Team

For years, managing change has been a key necessity for organisations across the globe.

Managing change is largely a reactive response to changes that occur, in order to make those changes work. Being able to manage changes ensure your business can effectively handle the circumstances brought on by internal and external events.

But simply managing change is not enough to make the most of opportunities on the horizon; we also need to be able to lead change.  

So, should we add ‘change leadership’ to our vocabulary, alongside ’change management’?

What does socalled change leadership involve?

Be proactive
To lead change is to be proactive. It’s thinking ahead: ‘What do we need to do next, how do we need to change to be able to meet customers’ / the world’s needs to be successful?’ It’s looking around you: ‘what’s going on in the market, the world and the society I’m in? What do I need to be aware of? What are the signs that things might be changing or that they should change?’

Take control
To lead change is to take control, which is a much better place to be in than feeling out of control. When you start to be proactive about change, you make it a very natural thing and potentially less threatening to your team members.

Involve your team
Another key aspect of leading change in teams is to involve the team in it. It’s not just the role of the leader to lead change. All team members can actively scan the world around them to understand the bigger picture and make better decisions for the team.

Here are some things you can do with your team specifically, to make this happen:

  • Discuss the questions above [in ‘Be proactive’]
  • Create a detailed strategy and communication plan for your upcoming change, and a goal to recognise what you will achieve and why it’s important. This will allow you to review your progress and to measure the success of the change.
  • Slow down. You need to slow down to speed up the change. Leaders can sometimes operate at such speed, they are too far ahead of the rest of the team. Stop and reflect to ensure you are prioritising the changes, doing the right thing at the right time.
  • Recognise that you are not at the same stage as others in relation to the change; sometimes as a leader you are one, two or three steps ahead of your team. Demonstrate empathy. Putting yourself into others shoes forces you to acknowledge where they are.
  • Positively reinforce strengths. When change occurs, people often focus on what is wrong, not what is right. Using strengths is a powerful way of getting yourself and others through the change.
  • Communicate the change curve and help people to understand the predictable stages of change.
  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence. Be emotionally aware of the impact of the  change. Have your emotional radar on so you can be aware of the effect of what you say and do at each stage.
  • Communicate. It’s important to both listen and involve people.
  • How people feel impacts how connected they are to the change and therefore if the change occurs.  Remember that people are convinced in different ways and get the team involved in decision making.

Behaviours are the differentiating factor in change. They are the magic key to whether the change happens or not. To create change leadership, be proactive, reflective, positive, considerate and trustworthy. Show empathy, be sensible and demonstrate responsibility. Don’t be afraid to be courageous, brave, open minded and cooperative.  Most importantly, stop and celebrate the success you’ve created.

Sustainability has become a popular word in business, but very few organisations do it well. Sustainability is taking the big picture view, to consider all the complexities of business, and  to consider the impact of decisions, actions and behaviours – not just now, but also in the future. It’s to think about the impact on the financial, human and natural resources a business needs to succeed – hence, creating sustainable, long-term success is something all businesses should aim for.

About the authors

Mandy Flint (left)
Mandy is an international expert on leading and developing teams. She is the CEO of Excellence in Leadership, a global transformational change organisation.  

Elisabet Vinberg Hearn (right)
Elizabet is the CEO of Think Solutions UK Ltd and Think Solutions AB in Sweden, leadership consultancies specialising in employee engagement and profitable corporate cultures.

They are the authors of Leading Teams – 10 Challenges: 10 Solutions.