Change is Good! How’s Your Leadership in the Midst of It?

I spent most of last week with clients in New York City.  Wow, does that city move!!  There is always something going on; so much excitement to see and energy to feel!!  It’s a melting pot of people, interests, food and shopping – something for everyone, if you can find it amidst the crowds and activity.

I feel like our world, in general, is in a big state of activity as well.  So many political and economic changes are driving companies to make adjustments.  Companies are reacting with changes in their workforce, service offerings and compensation…and employees are feeling the effects.

Don’t get me wrong, change can certainly be a good thing.  Sometimes, it’s truly needed.  That said, change isn’t always easy for people to digest.  They tend to have an immediate and sometimes physical reaction to any announcement of change.  But the best companies will always adjust…and so change will be part of the equation.

Leaders should be cognizant of the impact of change on their team and be ready to support people through the process.  Because the basic human need of feeling secure and valued is innate in all of us, leaders should be prepared to help nurture these emotions as change is occurring.

I’ve started a list of things that leaders can be proactive in doing to help ensure a smooth transition for their employees.  What would you add to the list?

Communicate the change effectively. This is critical to the success of any change.  A clear expectation must be set with as many details as can be provided (and then followed-through on!)  Leaders should be transparent…but that doesn’t mean they should disclose every single detail.  It means they should be authentic and honest, while they share as much as they can at the right times.

Involve your team in change, when possible.  Rosabeth Moss Kanter once said, “Change is a threat when done to me, but an opportunity when done by me.”  People want to play a part on what’s happening to their future.  Engage their expertise to guide the change and they will reward you by being more energized by it.

Remain consistent in your core values.  While processes, procedures and services may be changing, your people need to see the stability of your core values.  This will help them to remain confident in what’s happening, even if all the questions can’t be answered.

Share the vision and hope for the change.  This is what I often refer to as the “power of why.”  Most people are fairly purpose-driven.  They want affect change and have an impact, so it’s important to share the value and benefit of the change, as well as to help each person understand their role in that bigger picture.

Be an obstacle-remover.  In times of change, more than ever, a leader must provide the right tools for success and remove obstacles that are impeding progress.  Leaders should encourage open communication and innovation.  They should also allow for graceful failures.  This is where great leadership will come through, as the true “rallying” of the team is what facilitate a smooth transition through change.

What’s been your leadership experience in the midst of change?  Are you a great leader who has some additional ideas to share?  Or have you been led by someone who inspired everyone through a difficult transition?  Let’s all add to this list and develop a great resource we can all benefit from!!

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