Dealing with Change in Leadership

July 14, 2021


In our fast-changing world, the strategic imperative for change is evident. However, successful change is one of the core challenges that modern organizations are grappling with. Without effective change leadership an organization is unlikely to succeed. Some key reasons for organizational change include;

  • Change in organizational culture
  • Implementation of new technology
  • Change in leadership
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Looming crisis

Change management research has continuously demonstrated that organizational change initiatives fail more often than they succeed. It is in fact estimated that 70% of change initiatives fail.

What are Common Change Management Challenges?

Change is not always perceived as positive. Here are some common challenges to a successful transformation;

  1. Failure to Define Goals Right from the Start

Most change is geared towards improving current processes, services, products or the organizational culture. However, it’s critical that you identify all the goals and milestones.

  1. Poor Leadership and Lack of Alignment

Poor leadership and lack of buy-in from top leadership is one of the main reasons why organizational change fails. However, great leaders know how to influence and inspire people to embrace change. Leadership has a huge impact on employee engagement hence if the leadership isn’t convincing on the benefits of change, it may be difficult or even impossible to implement change.

  1. Identifying the Resources to Make Change a Success

Before commencing the change process, you need to identify the resources and individuals necessary to facilitate and lead the change. However, sometimes it’s difficult to identify these resources.

  1. Poor Communication

Communication is critical to successful change management. Every leader that desires change should capitalize on constant and effective communication during the entire change process. Poor communication can stifle organizational change.

  1. Resistance and Lack of Commitment to Change

Your major hindrance to change can be employees who may not want to collaborate and commit to new practices. Successful change leaders should address this resistance tactfully on both a psychological and behavioral level to eliminate any human barriers to change.

Core Elements of Successful Change Leadership

These elements create a connection between the people and process aspects of change.

  1. Communication

Successful change leaders communicate on the “what” and “why “of change. Leaders who explain the purpose of the change and connect it to organization values and long-term benefits create a stronger buy-in and urgency for change.

  1. Collaboration

The ability to bring people together to plan and execute change is paramount. Successful leaders break boundaries and encourage employees to break out of their silos. They also include employees in decision making right from the start hence strengthening their commitment to change.

  1. Commitment

Successful leaders facilitate change through their actions. Change is never easy, but leaders who negotiate it successfully are persistent, resilient and willing to venture out of their comfort zone.

Leading the Change Process

Change has never happened on its own. Effective change leaders are committed to the process from start to finish. Here are core aspects of change leadership;

  1. Initiate

After understanding the need for change, every change leader should proceed to make a case for the change they are seeking. This begins with evaluating the business context and understanding the need for change, defining a clear vision, the desired outcome and identifying the goals.

  1. Strategize

Successful change leaders develop a strategy and clear action plan that stipulates the priorities, structures, tasks, timelines and resources. They define what will change and what will remain the same. They define success from the start and address all questions and concerns.

  1. Execute

Executing and implementing strategy is one of the hallmarks of a successful leader. A successful change leader will assign the most competent people key positions, they also break down huge projects so as to celebrate each milestone and build momentum. They also develop monitoring systems and metrics to effectively measure progress.

Successfully Leading People Through Change

A majority of leaders neglect the human aspect of change. Great change leaders devote a considerable amount of time and effort in engaging everyone involved and know that people need time to adapt to change.

  • Support: Successful organizational change is executed by leaders that remove barriers to management and employee success. This may include personal barriers such as a sense of loss, wounded egos, as well as professional barriers such as shifts in workstyle and the amount of time and resources necessary to carry out the change.
  • Influence: This is not only about compliance but also the commitment required to drive change. It also involves mapping out the core change agents and defining what “buy-in”looks like from each. Successful change leaders identify key stakeholders such as board members, senior executives, clients and effectively communicate their vision for successful change.
  • Learn: Successful leaders never assume they have all the answers. They ask lots of questions and gather feedback to make necessary adjustments.

To successfully navigate change leaders, need lots of resilience to handle the pressures, uncertainty and setbacks that are inherent to change.

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