In today's world, only one thing is constant: Change. In the past, leaders have often focused on managing change. But maybe that isn't the best approach. Perhaps we could focus on changing our mindsets to effectively lead change. We will spend some time today talking about Change Leadership. What is it, and how can it work for you?
The Difference Between Change Management and Leading Change
As a rule, most leaders utilize change management tactics or strategies when implementing a new project or business solution. So, what exactly is change management? Change Management is a set process or approach that supports change related to a specific project or business solution. Any change should be implemented when a project begins so that all employees can adopt new behaviors or processes associated with the project. Creating a specific change process for a new project allows employees to understand the difference between the current and future states of the business. Having a structured change management process is important for new projects, but you might also need to do more.
What if leaders can effectively lead change that isn't tied to a specific project or business goal? Fundamentally, this is very different from change management. Leading Change involves building and communicating a vision for change that isn't tied to a specific business goal or project. In this case, leaders are changing something intuitively made and engrained in the company's DNA. This style of leading change is transformational. Leading change is driving the business solution rather than just implementing it. Leaders who can "lead change" will create a mindset across the entire organization on what should be different rather than asking people to follow a prescribed solution. In this scenario, your employees become engaged and take active roles. Because leading change will positively impact your organization's culture, it allows employees to think differently. Employees will buy in and want to participate in the process, allowing for more efficient and rapidly growing change outcomes.
While leading change sounds good in theory, you might be asking yourself, 'How do I implement something along these lines at my organization?'
The first step is thinking differently than you have in the past.
You can't just act differently; your entire thought process must change. Your goal is to make this change contagious. It should be embedded into everything you do or see. That starts with an "affective vision." This vision should be something personal to your employees. They must understand how the vision relates to them and its importance. Often, company mission statements are written for external clients, and our employees don't understand how they fit into that mission. If you want to truly engage the workforce and enact change, your employees need to understand the importance and their role in making that change. You should explain how the vision plays into the daily interactions and the more complex strategies or projects. You must authentically connect with your employees to become a great change leader. Employees must understand what change means and how that change will occur.
Most people will be somewhat uncomfortable and dislike change initially, so they must trust you throughout the process and know they have your support. Your goal is to help make them comfortable with the new changes. Change can sometimes be scary and frustrating for employees; everyone will react differently. Employees will have a variety of emotions as it relates to change and change initiatives. As a leader, you must remain in control and address each emotion/issue as it arises.
Growing, succeeding, and leading all have one thing in common: Change.
Change will always be present. Sometimes it will be little tweaks; other times, it will be dynamic and extensive. Great leaders know how to respond to all change and understand that it's a continual part of leading others. Changing mindsets and embracing change will keep you ahead of the curve and ready to respond at a moment's notice. Shifting your mindset will help you take advantage of these opportunities and stay ahead of the competition.