As a leader in your organization, you may be more familiar and more comfortable with change than the team members you lead. You probably hear about upcoming changes much sooner than your team, have a chance to think about and understand the reasons for the change, and may even have input to what and how changes are made. One of the most important leadership competencies you can develop is leveraging the informational and decision-making perks of your position to lead others on the path to quick, effective implementation of change.
As with many leadership competencies, first and foremost, you must model the behavior you would like other people to demonstrate, in this case openness to and excitement about change. Anyone who has ever been involved in implementing a new computer system can tell you that, no matter how excellent and cutting-edge the software, the project can be sabotaged by people’s resistance to change. Make being an early adopter of change part of your personal brand and your team is much more likely to follow your lead.
Second, learn to expect that people are going to feel disoriented by a significant change, at least at the outset. If you’re not familiar with the business classic on change, Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson, make sure to get hold of a copy – you may even want to get copies for your team! This modern fable illustrates that people’s initial negative reactions to change are fundamentally based on fear of losing the sources of reward that they are used to having. As a leader, you need to understand and anticipate this, clearly communicating your confidence that team members’ skills and strengths will transfer well to the new circumstances.
Finally, be frank and clear about:
• reasons for the change
• how the change will impact your team
• individual responsibilities during the change process
• support and information resources available to team members
When it comes to leadership competencies, your ability to introduce changes in a positive light, help your team members see and embrace new opportunities for rewards, and get agreement on how to go forward are among the most valuable in your leadership toolkit.