The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Change Leaders
In his book, Spiritual Leadership, author J. Oswald Sanders says, "Leadership is influence." The concept of leadership implies leading others in a preferred direction. A leader is someone who takes followers from where they are to where they need to be. Leadership, therefore, implies change, and one of the roles of a leader is producing positive change, because if organizations do not change and grow, then they'll wither and die.
The truth is 70% of organizational transformations fail. So what are the top 7 habits highly effective change leaders should demonstrate?
1. Start with Why
The critical first step to delivering successful organizational change is to create a shared sense of purpose. One that achieves more than awareness but creates energy, buzz and clarity of purpose among the people who will need to adapt their behaviour for change to be successful. Without a clear and compelling case for change, it is easy for major change initiatives to drift, hit an iceberg and sink.
2. Own it and show it
According to Prosci’s Change Management study, when prompted to identify the greatest overall contributor to project success, participants cited: active and visible executive sponsorship. Employees in the organization will evaluate and judge the importance and priority of a change based on what they see and hear from senior leaders, which is why sponsorship is so critical.
3. Engage those impacted
The biggest obstacles to change management are poor communication and a lack of stakeholder buy-in. Creating an effective stakeholder engagement strategy is an extremely important aspect of your overall change strategy. The more engagement you have, the more commitment and positive contribution you will have, and, as engagement goes up, resistance goes down.
4. Plan to Replan
A project doesn’t exist in a vacuum, as the landscape changes, it too must adapt or risk failing or falling short. You need to continuously communicate and collaborate on execution of a plan with the stakeholders and plans need to get updated to reflect changes. Planning is really an on-going process that helps adjust the course, keep on track and makes accomplishing goals more likely.
5. Practice makes perfect
In the era of Agile project methodology, change is launched before it is finished and polished. The traditional model: Policy > Process > Practice has been replaced by Practice > Process > Policy. We learned that there is no point waiting for things to be perfect to be launched. Rather launch the concept when it’s viable, observe its imperfections, be quick to improve them and launch again the better version and keep doing this until it’s great.
6. Always. Be. Measuring.
Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. Measurement should be considered during the planning of change and before any action is undertaken. Measure early and often and tell about it. Without measures of success, the organization does not know if it has succeeded in its efforts. Someone once said, “What gets measured gets improved.”
7. If you want something to grow, pour Champagne on it.
Change can be frustrating and take a long time. It is therefore critical to celebrate milestones once they have been reached. Taking the time to celebrate is important because it acknowledges people’s hard work, boosts morale, keeps up the momentum, and neutralizes scepticism about the change effort. Celebrate your successes and, indeed, just about everything you would like to see happen again: little victories, the things that worked out, problems that turned into successes.
Do you know other great habits that contribute to a successful change? Feel free to share them in the comments section.
About the author: Sandrine Provoost
is a change strategist and founder of Vanguard Change Consulting LLC
, boutique consulting firm specialized in Change Management consultancy, training, coaching and innovation research based in New York. Sandrine has 15 years industry and consulting experience managing projects and change across 20 countries and 3 continents.
Follow Sandrine's updates on Twitter @ChangeVanguard