It’s no surprise that people are the critical asset in successfully leading change. Leaders who know how to navigate and lead change with and through others have a competitive advantage that enables them to reap the rewards of increased revenue and profits. Unfortunately, most leaders, while they may be constantly initiating change, admit they are neither very good at it nor comfortable with leading it. They, and you, may benefit from knowing the hard truths about leading change, including:
- Change starts with leadership. Leaders talk about what others need to do to implement the change but don’t always realize that change starts with themselves. Additionally, leaders are not always comfortable with change. Change initiatives succeed when leaders accept the change, are actively involved in it, and are accountable for the results.
- Change is disruptive and messy. People can get distracted and resist the change. Leaders can help their people stay away from gossiping, so they can focus instead on what matters to drive positive outcomes.
- A company’s people and culture influence the outcomes. The business content can consume leaders’ time, so the people aspects get shortchanged. Strategic changes succeed or fail based on the culture and the people. Simply put, what people do and say will impact the business results. Therefore, leading change requires using both business and people skills to gain the benefits of the change.
- People want the benefits of change, but do not want to actually be changed. Change requires getting people ready, willing, and able to “want” to make the change. This may mean that they must learn new behaviors. Therefore, if you want a different outcome, you must change what you and your people do. Leaders can accelerate the change process by helping people see “what’s in it for them” through the right positive reinforcement.
- Change efforts fail in the handoffs. Many change efforts fail when the handoff from the project team to the leadership team isn’t clear, or when leaders fail to accept full accountability for executing the plans.
Maybe it’s time to change up your approach to leading change. For practical, proven strategies to lead your change effort, check out my new book; Change Up: How Top Executives Lead Change and Deliver Results, available at Amazon.com!