Image intended to articulate change leadership. Wooden blocks spell out the word "change". A woman flips the G to become a C, articulating the chance or opportunity that comes with change.
Communication Emotional Intelligence Inclusion & Culture Leadership

Change Leadership: Leading Change Like A Pro

Effective change leadership is essential to any organisational change.

When things are smooth sailing at work, many leaders are able to lead effectively. However, in big periods of change or stress, many of the usual strategies tend to not be enough.

Whether the challenges are pandemics, staff and resource shortages, or rapid technological advances, it is important for leaders to develop the capability to navigate challenging times.

Firstly, leaders should role-model the behaviours and attitudes that they expect from their staff. In other words, leaders should lead from the front.

While change can be stressful, good leaders will find ways to work smarter – not harder. They will foster open communication and consult / listen to their staff. In doing so, they can successfully navigate change.

Below are the most important things for leaders to consider when navigating change or challenging periods in the workplace.

Change Leadership: First Thing’s First

  • Stay calm and be a role model
  • Maintain regular communication with your team
  • Identify and prioritise critical tasks
  • Ensure staff awareness of critical tasks and priorities
  • Look for signs of stress – check up on your staff and their wellbeing
  • Develop the ability to make informed decision quickly

Image intended to articulate change leadership. Wooden blocks spell out the word "change". A woman flips the G to become a C, articulating the chance or opportunity that comes with change.

What is Your Change Orientation?

There are three change orientation profiles (eg. common way people reactions to change): The Initiator, The Planner, and The Resistor, all of which have positive and negatives in practice.

By understanding how individuals respond to change, leaders will be much better positioned to lead their teams through change. If leaders identify each team member’s change orientation (as well as their own), they will be able to better capitalise on the strengths of their teams, while also managing weaknesses.

The Initiator:

  • sets ideas in motion ↑
  • is often entrepreneurial and individualistic ↑
  • may forget the team in favour of energetic activity ↓
  • can be accused of insensitivity ↓

The Planner:

  • is a steady performer ↑
  • thinks issues through and builds future ideas based on past performance ↑
  • studies trends ↑
  • may not always consider implementation realities ↓
  • can be accused of over-deliberation and inactivity ↓

The Resistor:

  • is often conscientious and respectful of tradition ↑
  • may wish to retain the best of the past but may be unable to effectively articulate this ↓
  • may be accused of negativity and an unwillingness to cooperate ↓

Which do you think you are? You can find out here.

This graphic reads, "What are the two most common reasons that Australians leave jobs? 1. Poor Leadership & Management. 2. Lack of Development Opportunities. This links back to retaining staff as a core strategy to effective change leadership.

Staff Retention Through Periods of Change:

In challenging times, especially when it comes to skills shortages, staff retention is essential.

Studies find that the reason most employees leave a job is not due to money, but rather the quality of their leaders and/or a lack of development opportunities.

So, what can you implement to keep your staff as part of your change management plan?

  • Create clear pathways for growth within your organisation
  • Invest in the training and development of your leaders
  • Offer flexible working conditions or workplace benefits where increased pay is not an option
  • Foster a positive workplace culture and focus on building morale

The image is of a man pushing a huge circular rock up a mountain. He is dressed in corporate clothes with a skyline behind him. This image is meant to visualise resilience against adversity, a core component of effective change leadership.

Building Resilience: Change Leadership

Some people are naturally more resilient than others. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as the environment that they grew up in, the positive influences in their life, or their personality traits. The good news is that resilience – the ability to cope with unexpected changes and challenges – is a skill that can be learnt and developed.

For leaders, it is important to ensure that their teams are resilient through challenging times. This prevents employees from getting overwhelmed by big changes and ensures better balance and overall health and wellbeing.

Identify the following:

  • Emotional intelligence strengths and areas for improvement
  • Habitual emotional reactions
  • Stress indicators
  • Emotional triggers
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivators
  • Default response to change

Once staff have an awareness of these different things, they can develop self-regulation strategies to overcome challenging periods in their lives and at work.

The quote reads, "True leaders don't create more followers, they create more leaders". The quote is against a translucent purple image of a classroom scenario, where change leadership is being taught. Quote is by Tom Peters.

We leave you with this final thought. In order to survive challenging times, organisations must adapt to change faster than the marketplace. Leaders who create followers reduce the capacity of the organisation to adjust. When leaders create more leaders, they increase their organisation’s capacity to grow, improve, and innovate through challenging periods – the cornerstones of change leadership.

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