75% of all change efforts fail according to Tony Schwartz. The Center for Creative Leadership suggests that managing and navigating change will be a top competency a leader must gain to be successful.
As a leader, consider the following 3 areas we need to address change. The areas include leading self, leading others and leading the business provides a framework for how we process our own leadership. Under each category, lives a multitude of competencies we must gain skill in to forge a strong and clear path forward.
Leading Self– How do you process change? Do you prefer to innovate or conserve? Leaders who are innovators prefer to come up with the latest and greatest change ideas. Leaders who conserve prefer incremental change and may wish to preserve the status quo. Your understanding of how you process change will be critical as you seek to lead change.
Your anxiety during change should be monitored closely. A differentiated leader during change will understand the importance his non-anxious presence has on the team. A non-anxious presence creates calm in the storm. Employees watch you very closely and your emotions give them a signal of whether to be worried or poised. Your poise ought not be underestimated. Know your change stress triggers to help you navigate change.
Leading Others– This is about knowing your team. How does your team typically handle change? Is your team full of people who prefer constant change or prefer to maintain current state? People prefer to build change vs having change thrust upon them. The more you include them in the process the more likely your team will be in upholding the initiative.
One of my failures as a leader was when I initiated a massive change for a team of consultants without first consulting them. In fact, the leadership team I was a member of had become so familiar with the change that it created a confirmation or familiarity bias, which kept us from seeing the impact it would have on others. When we become familiar with a potential change or decision, we tend to forget the impact it will have on others.
Leading the Business – It is important for teams to consider how to provide ongoing and regular communication out to the company regarding the change process. Employees want to know the plan, the progress and the process. The plan includes the end goal with key tactics. The progress includes how far we have come to the end goal. The process includes the steps we will take to get there.
In a session, I spoke at last week, the attendees were asked to share how a recent set of change initiatives had impacted them. The feedback that emerged consistently was the need for more regular communication. It is easy for leaders to think they have communicated enough when they have become so familiar with the change initiative. This oversight has great impact on employees. Remember, employees will create the story if you do not create the story for them.
Out of the 3 categories, where are you the strongest and where do you need improvement?