Change leadership involves leading an organization to make intended and real change that meets the set vision. Unlike day-to-day leadership, this type of leadership requires a unique mindset and extra capabilities to meet its set of demands that are crucial in leading the organization to a new place. The change leader, who happens to be the main force behind the intended change, creates a vision and inspires others to commit themselves to achieving the vision. They are in charge of driving the change process to completion and removing any barriers to the process.
The Complete Change Leadership Model Overview
The model assumes the following:
- Effective leadership is dependent on the collaboration with shared power, collective action and a passionate commitment “to social justice” (Holbeche, p.11).
- Leadership is not about the actions of an individual in a position of power. Rather, it is about the collective experience of the group as it works towards achieving a common goal.
- Leadership is based on values of which every team member should be aware of and understand.
- Leadership is not just reserved for those in authoritative positions. It is also for anyone who wishes to impact change.
- Leadership is about the ability to effect positive change and achieve set goals.
There are many theories about how the change leadership model works or rather the procedure it follows. The most popular one used today is an 8-step model introduced in the book “Leading Change” by John Kotter in 1995. The model can be categorized into three stages namely:
- Creating a climate for change
- Engaging and enabling the organization
- Implementing and sustaining change
Creating a Climate for Change
According to Dumas (47), 75% of the stakeholders involved have to believe that the organization needs change. For this to happen, one has to beyond presentations on reduced turnover statistics or stiff competition in the conference room. Go a mile further and explain current circumstances in the market and how they could affect the organization. In creating motivation to influence change, one should not be afraid to explore opportunities that could prove beneficial in future. Identifying potential threats and how they could be tackled is also part of the process. If necessary, the help of clients, industry and other external stakeholders can be sought.
Convincing people that change is necessary requires the help of key people within the organization as well as strong leadership. In simpler terms, managing change is not enough. It has to be led. To achieve this, you need to put together a coalition team. The team should be made up of people who are not only convinced that change is necessary but are of influential power. The source of power could range from expertise, job title, political importance or even status just to name a few. For maximum results, ensure that the team includes a good mix from different levels of the organization. They should work on team building to boost unity among the members.
Creating a Vision for Change
Having a clear idea goes a long way in convincing people why an organization needs change. It makes it easier for others to grasp what you are trying to achieve. As a result, they act on directives given faster and more efficiently in a bid to realize the vision hence effective change leadership.
Engaging and Enabling the Organization
Communicate the Vision
After creating the concept, there is a need to communicate it consistently and incorporate it into everything in an attempt to achieve it. Do not wait for a special meeting to communicate the vision. Instead, communicate it every chance you get. Better yet, employ the “walk the talk” tactic i.e. demonstrate the behavior you expect from your team. This serves to remind and keep everyone focused on working towards the realization of the vision.
Annihilate the obstacles
Every process is bound to run into a few challenges. In this case, it could be people opposed to change. Alternatively, it could be the processes hindering it. Whatever the case, there is need to check for any barriers regularly and remove them if they exist. This stage of change leadership helps to empower your coalition team while at the same time ensuring progress of the change process.
Creating Short Term Wins
Rather than creating one long-term goal, generate short-term goals. Achieving each of these small targets could serve as wins which in turn serves as a source of motivation for the team. Better yet, reward the people who help achieve these goals. After all, nothing can serve as better motivation than success, however small.
Implementing and Sustaining Change
Build on the Change
Declaration of early victory is one of the major factors that lead to failure of a change project. What most do not realize is that small wins are only the beginning of bigger things to come. Take advantage of the small successes and use them as a tool to look for improvements. Identify what went right or wrong and figure out a way to improve on it.
Incorporate it in Organizational Structure
Incorporating change in the organizational structure is the final step. It acts as a way of ensuring that change sticks. In simpler terms, it acts as a sustaining tool. Make sure that there is continued support from all stakeholders involved, and include the ideals of the change when hiring/training new members of the team.
Implementing change in an organization is an extensive process. It requires hard work and determination, both of which have to be accompanied by careful planning and building the right foundation. Patience is also of paramount value as expecting too much too soon could derail the process.
Creating urgency, putting together a coalition, creating and communicating your vision, annihilating obstacles, creating short-term wins, building and sustaining are all procedures that could lead to successful implementation of change in an organization. Successful change implementation through proper guidance and support of those implementing the change as well as those adapting to it is a sign of effective change leadership.
Holbeche, L. (2002). Change leadership. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Dumas, Colette (2015). Change Leadership. Sage Pubns Ltd.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.