A guide to being a change leader

Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 11:15

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

In a world that is increasing complex, the daily struggle with the volume and velocity of change can be wearying. Rather than letting this lead to frustration, overwhelm or just plain exhaustion, leading change starts with being prepared. 

Change is normal, desirable and vital for any business seeking to stay relevant and competitive. The problem is not with change itself, rather our response to it. This is why implementing effective, enduring and positive change works best by being brain-savvy.

How your brain sees change

The threat of change can trigger the stress response with that horrible stomach churn, pounding heart and sweaty feeling along with a hearty side-serve of fear and anxiety. We each have a unique perspective on what we consider stressful. Organisational change presents a challenge not least because of the diversity of the modern workplace.

  • The “Old Guard” dislikes change as it poses a threat to what was previously accepted as valid, challenges their status and can be viewed as unfair.
  • The “New Kids On The Block” see change as an opportunity to show others what they’re worth, and to boost their standing they want to see change happen.
  • The “Middle Earthers” are often lackluster in their response to yet more change. They’ve seen it all before and know it well for the extra work it entails, the times when the change didn’t work and wonder if they can be bothered to deal with yet more, especially if there is no obvious benefit.
  • The “Change Leaders” while enthusiastic, may lack experience, be unsure of the level of anticipated resistance and lack clarity in how to put a change framework together.

Leading effective change preparations includes:

Expect the next parcel of change soon

Keeping a look out for when change makes a less surprising visit. This includes noticing when change is needed and creates the expectation that change is a continuum and normal.

Make it a must not a maybe

Wishful thinking doesn’t lead to change. It has to be highly desired to provide the internal motivation to proceed with the required level of energy and effort. How important is this change to you, your team and your business?

Switch on your GPS

Knowing where you are headed and how long the journey may take helps to alleviate uncertainty and the fear of ending up at the wrong destination. Using a map and planning regular pit stops provides the opportunity to review progress, and check that you’re still on the right path. Seeing how far you’ve already travelled is highly motivating to see changes through.

Take baby steps

Taking on too much change too quickly can be like overtraining at the gym - leading to injury and the abandonment of the project. Change can appear highly complex, so cutting it down into smaller manageable pieces makes it simpler and safer to proceed.

Expect setbacks

The road to successful change is littered with obstacles and distractions. It’s not how often you get knocked over that matters, but making sure you get back up one more time.

As Winston Churchill reminds us “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”.

Have a support team

Daniel Ricciardo knows his success depends on having a pit crew to support him. Your change advocates keep you moving forwards, stretch your boundaries of possibility and will always be there to help you celebrate your wins.

It is the journey to change that leads to personal and professional growth, powered by the belief this is what is needed for continuing success and opportunity. How well are you prepared?

About the Author: Dr. Jenny Brockis is a speaker, author and mentor specialising in the science of high- performance thinking. Find out more at www.drjennybrockis.com