When your organization is in flux, your leadership skills may feel tested. Even if you know exactly where your company is headed, members of your team may feel insecure, worried, and apprehensive. It takes real leadership skills to keep those emotions from affecting productivity. Not only does it take a lot of skill to lead through organizational change, but it also takes having a realistic understanding and application of the change itself as it applies to your team specifically.
You can’t lead change if you do not embrace it. There are likely things that you are apprehensive about, worries you have about the future; all of these “what ifs” that keep you awake at night. At some point, you have to let all of that go and commit fully to the change that is happening in your organization and of which you have no control. Don’t beat yourself up about having doubts. There is a well established “grieving” process associated with corporate change. When graphed out, it looks something like an upside-down bell curve and progresses like this:
High Expectations > Shock > Mourning > Nostalgia > Anxiety > Guilt > Depression > Letting Go > EMBRACING CHANGE> Focus > Structure > Hope > Attachment > Excitement > Realistic Expectations
Convey the Goals for Change
There is no debate that change within a corporation can lead to the creation of opportunities and competitive advantage, while companies that refuse change are inching toward a slow painful death. This isn’t to say that all change is positive, just that the goals of change most certainly are. The idea here is to focus on and convey how the changes will help your company innovate, disrupt, and improve your industry, the lives of your customers, and the company culture. Don’t assume that team members understand the reasons for the changes, the ultimate goals, or even the extent of the changes being made and how it does or does not affect them.
Model the Desired Behavior
Whether your team needs calm, enthusiasm, or encouragement, they will expect to find it in you. Even if you aren’t quite there yet, model the behavior your team needs to progress through the change. One quote comes to mind as I write this:
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” John C. Maxwell, author and leadership expert.
If your team trusts and believes in you, they will follow your vision through the many ups and downs of change. This is the mark of your leadership.
Create a Vision You Actually Believe In
No matter what the corporate expectations are, develop realistic expectations that you and your team can get behind. Only when you are grounded in reality, can you have hope and believe for the best. If you are riding the rollercoaster of corporate spin it ‘s hard to find footing, stabilize, and move forward.
Align Your Vision with the Corporate Vision
When you are dealing with a truly realistic corporate vision, your job of leading change is made simpler. However, it is not uncommon for corporate to have lofty or far-reaching, long-term expectations. These expectations aren’t necessarily unreasonable but may take time. Make sure that each team member feels connected to the big picture goals. To facilitate this, create goals for your team that are incremental, realistic and that align with the larger corporate goals and vision.
When organizational change is occurring the unsettling ripple effect impacts, everyone. Effectively leading through change requires an understanding of what your team needs to feel secure. This is especially important because we know that uncertainty and inefficiency often go hand in hand.
Sure, leadership who successfully creates change are seen as visionary, change agents, and forward thinkers. The less glamorous reality is that effective change leaders simply find ways to keep their team motivated, secure, and focused on creating a vision everyone can believe in.
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