Change Management — How Are We Helping Leaders Change?

W8pVD9o3_400x400*This is a guest post authored by Rob Field, Learning and Development Director at Advanced People Strategies.

We all heard it and probably all rolled our eyes to it…’The only constant is change’.

With organisations needing to constantly adapt and evolve due to competitive forces, global challenges or political decisions how are leaders meant to keep up?

Development programmes can provide frameworks and information to help create knowledge. We often see comprehensive change programmes with teams of people lead by programme managers. Effective at reviewing processes and creating the project plan and driving timelines to enable delivery. New systems, processes and products emerge. There are the usual statistics that over 80% of change programmes fail. Kotter would say that we need to attend to eight areas with the final of these being anchoring changes firmly in the corporate culture.

Change management is probably the biggest challenge leaders face.

Resistance can be present as well as those ‘embracing’ change who may be overcommitting. As products and services are changing, are the leaders changing along with them? They are the role models of the business. Emerging talent will be copying what they do as they grow their careers. Are they modelling the right behaviours? Charles Brown former Chairman of AT&T recognised this when he said ‘I think we can do the internal job of changing without fear of failure, once we’re given some decent understanding of what is expected of us. But the complexity of trying to change ourselves, when we don’t know what the future rules are going to be, injects a degree of uncertainty that creates a lot of anxiety.’ Leading change is a key component of successful leadership.

Knowing who you are as a leader and being able to lead yourself effectively can make a huge difference within the organisation.

How do we support leaders from being resistant over overcommitting? Challenging them to recognise their behaviours, making them conscious of their impact on others helps them become the role models required to create or modify the corporate culture. There are several areas to address to do this including considering how feedback is collected and provided within the organisation, how leaders get to understand who they are and how to keep them conscious of how they impact others. Failure to do so may jeopardise their effectiveness.

So, although we talk about change management, we can teach people the relevant skills. We need to support the leaders to impact the culture of the organisation and learn to change themselves in ways that better serve others. Using the right tools and considering how leaders are coached impacts on more effective change management.