Brexit, the new Trump Administration, EU instability - reading the news each morning I am struck by the number of changes we are seeing in such a short amount of time.
Dramatic policy shifts, new economic negotiations, and the general uncertainty about what the future will look like, are impacting businesses around the world. It is a period where strong, effective, change leadership will be critical for success.
Preparing for an unknown future
We are in a period where the political climate is being redefined. Along with this, the economic climate is changing.
We don’t know yet with certainty what the next 1-2 years will look like, but what we can expect is significant, and potentially sudden, changes that will impact across a high proportion of businesses. We can also expect an increase in the volume and complexity of changes that we are expected to accommodate, and if events in the last few weeks are an indicator, to react to a sudden shift in policy with little to no notice.
Being able to quickly, rapidly and successfully implement changes, while maintaining an engaged and motivated workforce, is the challenge we face as leaders.
The importance of change leadership
In turbulent times leaders’ credibility is threatened as demand for change outstrips the organizational capacity to implement that change. In fact, leaders themselves are often identified as one of the key reasons for change failure.
Building strong change leadership in your organization, coupled with a powerful engagement process, will help build a resilient and agile organization that can cope with the uncertain times ahead.
Effective change leadership starts at the top and cascades down
In a time of rapid change it is often easy to try and quickly implement changes, moving from one to the next, without ensuring that the prior changes have been successfully implemented and taken hold within the organization.
Effective change requires more than just decisions at the executive level, it requires strong change leadership to cascade planned changes down into the organization, embedding them throughout.
We identify 3 change leadership roles that are needed to successfully implement change in an organization, each with clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
In The Power of Data (part 2) we analyze how change leadership makes a difference to implementing successful change. We found that strong senior sponsorship is essential for any major change, due to the formal power, and therefore influence, that they hold.
Without strong senior sponsorship support of the change the organization may feel that the organizational management does not support the change.
Working in tandem, change agents need to support the intentions of the sponsor, planning the execution of the change and coordinating across the organization. The success of these two leadership roles, aligned and working together to achieve the change objectives, is critical for the success of strategic change.
Powerful engagement processes are central to successful change
Effective change leadership during times of change also requires a powerful engagement process. It is not enough just to tell the organisation what needs to happen, their engagement and ownership of the change (their commitment) will ensure the change is truly implemented within the organization.
As we saw from The Power of Data (part 1), moving people from acceptance of the change to commitment takes a structured approach. The 4 components of a powerful engagement process are:
Structured appropriately, and combined with strong change leadership, the right engagement process will enable your organization to cope with the turbulent times ahead.
When faced with uncertainty, ensure your change framework is in place
Preparing and having a strong change framework, or change capability, in place will allow you to cope with whatever heads your way, and successfully implement the changes in a timely manner.
To help you build effective change leadership in your organization, The Power of Data (part 2), looks at both the change sponsor and change agent roles and provides practical tips and tactics you can implement in your organization.
Our series of articles The Importance of…. will provide you with more information on creating the right engagement process for your organization. (For those interested, I provide an in-depth look at both topics in the book Successful Change.)
While we may not know exactly what is heading our way, we can already start to prepare our organizations. Your journey to creating effective change leadership starts now. Download a copy of our Leadership ebook to learn more.