3 Ways to Create Effective Change Leaders

It is often said that ‘change is the only constant,’ but for large organisations, change can be painful. This is especially true when it comes to enterprise-wide change programmes. According to Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of all large-scale transformation efforts fail to some degree.

With big change programmes, good change leadership is vital to success. This shouldn’t be confused with change management:

Change Management
  • A set of processes, tools and mechanisms to manage change
  • More suitable for smaller changes
  • Focus is on control
Change Leadership
  • Making the change process as a whole faster, smarter and more efficient
  • More suitable for large-scale changes
  • Focus is on big visions and taking risks

Therefore, effective change leaders need more than just the business skills to keep change moving within budget and time constraints. They need wider skills that enable them to understand and inspire people to get involved in the change effort. Enterprise-wide change isn’t just a case of implementing new tools and processes, it requires a shift in cultural mindsets and behaviour as well.

So how can you set up change leaders in your organisation for success?

Emphasise collaboration and communication

Creating a collaborative environment should be a focus in this kind of change. Setting up a dialogue that involves people at all levels of the organisation, so they know exactly where they fit into the change, will enable them to understand the importance of their role and make sure they feel heard and important. Empowering people at all levels to take initiative will create a culture of innovation and positive change.

Setting up a network for change leaders is a good way to ensure that learning and best practices are shared throughout the organisation. This will prevent progress from being restricted to silos and small pockets of the organisation.

Change attitudes towards training

Finding the right change leaders for the job can be tough. Look for people with skills and strengths that can be built on and who are influential in areas that are important to the transformation.

Make training relevant - tie learning to business goals to ensure that leaders are learning to solve real business problems. People are more motivated and engaged when they understand their context within the change. They need to know not just what they should be doing but also why they are doing it.

Remember that training should be ongoing. The transformation journey is one that never really ends. Everyone throughout the organisation should be continuously learning as technology and business priorities evolve. Work to create a culture of agility and resiliency so that large-scale change becomes an organisational capability.

Look for people with ‘soft’ skills

People skills such as networking, persuasion and empathy are vital for change leaders to be successful. People with these skills will have developed good relationships within the business, so will have a wide net of influence which enables them to promote and drive change.

The value of empathy cannot be underestimated. Good leaders know that understanding people’s motivations and worries will enable them to get the best out of their teams. Large-scale change can be overwhelming. Ongoing change comes with the threat of change fatigue and technology creates anxieties about humans being replaced by machines. Change leaders need to communicate with people honestly about the nature and implications of the changes being made.

Enterprise-wide change needs to be a collective effort for all departments and levels of the organisation. Good change leadership ensures that the vision for change doesn’t stay in the minds of the top executives but involves every member of the company. Simply deploying new tools within time and budget constraints is not enough. There needs to be motivation for everyone to be involved in the change and adopt new tools and practices that will make the difference. Good change leaders make this possible.

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