Leadership and Change

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leadership-and-changefBeing a leader today is very different to being a leader in the past.  Today we need to have emotional intelligence and see the world from a holistic perspective to be open and show the way forward. It is necessary as a leader to be trustworthy, honest and fair.

Leadership is about CHANGE, so how does a leader react when faced with resistance, which often happen with change?

Related: “Lead By Example”

As a leader we will see resistance in many ways.  This can manifest itself by having people not wishing to comply, who drag the chain and sabotage what we are trying to do or simply refuse to make the change.  As a leader we need to understand that this is a behaviour that we will experience many times.  It all comes back to where our own individual awareness is in regards to how we treat and work with people.

Initially, the first thing we need to be able to do is to build TRUST with the people we are leading.  We need to hear them and what they are saying.  There are many factors that bring about resistance, so listen to what is being said, understand things from their perception and find a way around it so that the best outcome for everyone is achieved.  Learning how to strategise to gain the outcome you want is important for all concerned, done with care.

It is important that when change is being created that people concerned do not feel that they have lost control over their position or their rights (as they see them) by supporting them to keep face. Give them choices within the changes by listening to them and how they can be involved.  Make sure that you give them the space to verbalise and be heard so that they can take some ownership of the outcomes.

It is also important to ease the changes so that you do not get an initial backlash.  Make sure that the vision you have is clear and support your people to have the clarity too so that it becomes their vision for the company as well.  By giving them voice, you will find that they will come with you as long as they feel safe, supported and inspired to change.

It is important also that with new changes people are aware that it is happening in the future and not just sprung on them without warning.  Decision making by surprise is not a good way for a good leader to bring about change.  Gradually, plant the seeds of change by keeping everyone aware of why you are heading in that direction.  Give your people time to integrate slowly and easily, keeping them in the loop.  There is no need to bring about change all at once, as this will get your people off side.

We are creatures of habit and sudden changes can cause great confusion and lack of trust.  Change is about creating something different and better for the company themselves, but there is a way to go about it without too much pain to your people.  Often there is a main central change for the company’s direction so by keeping everyone in the loop that there are going to be changes, will support little if any backlash.  Create the new direction and vision whilst keeping everyone informed as much as you are able to from a confidentiality perspective.  If you can sell your vision to your staff, they will continue to follow you and their confusion around the changes will be minimal.

When there is a change in direction there will always be those who find it threatening and uncomfortable, as we are creatures of habit.  Most people do not embrace change easily, especially if they were part of what is being recreated or dismantled.  They may even become quite defensive about the changes as they are aware that they will need to fit into the new.  So, keep them on side especially if the changes in strategic direction are large so as not to make them defensive. Know that they have their perception of where the company was heading and if they were directly involved in what didn’t work or needed to be changed or revised, they may find it more difficult to move on.  Make it easy for them by honouring their part in the business to this time and help them embrace the coming changes by acknowledging there may be some difficulties.

Related: “Resistance … why do we resist change?”

The world is rapidly changing and companies need to keep abreast with the changes if they want to grow and move ahead.  It is up to the leader of the company to support their people by keeping them abreast of the changes that are occurring, not only within the company but within the industry or world itself.

When there are changes people feel threatened and at first wonder at their own expertise and ability to being able to make the change themselves.  They can become sceptical about the changes without understanding the necessity of it for business growth.  Usually employees feel vulnerable at this time and can give all the reasons why something will not work.  This is their own lack of confidence and by good leadership you can make the transition easier for them by keeping them reassured of how they fit into the big scheme of things.

As we know when there are changes, there will not only be a change in roles but also a greater workload on staff for readjustment.  Let your team know that you appreciate them and by understanding their ‘love language’ you can support them through giving them what they require to feel valued.  For example, by understanding them you can reward them more easily with a gift, a bonus, time off etc.  Listening to your people is the greatest gift you can give them.  We all like to be heard.

We are all aware that however you manage change in your company or life, there will be changes to others too.  The ripple effect has to happen.  So create a system that will encompass everyone concerned, along with the outside areas disrupted by your change, so that everyone is acknowledged.  Within the company it may be other departments, your customers, other stakeholders or other business relationships.  Outside it could be the families or the neighbourhood that will feel the change.  Lessen the fall out as best you can so that it is embraced rather than rebelled against.  The important thing with change in any organisation is to minimise the disruption as quickly as you can.

Always as a leader be aware of where your opposition will be (if any) and where resentment will come from as a result of the past.  This must always be taken into consideration and you need to find a way of getting the co-operation necessary to make the changes happen easily without too much disturbance and pain.

Change can affect people financially too and this can be a real threat to the company.  People may need to be stood down, prices or wages may need to be cut and or investments wiped along with changes in technology.  Be transparent and honest with your people.  Make sure you look after them as best you can by being fair.  It is all about minimising the discomfort to all concerned so your business can move forward with ease and acceptance for the changes that will be necessary for you to progress.

Listen to your people and take on board their comments as this will assist you to support everyone to something bigger and better in the future.

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