Introducing and managing that change in an effective and efficient way is critical to every leader’s success. But with change comes resistance. Meeting that resistance is one of the biggest challenges leaders face. The more a leader understands the importance of driving the change cycle and the change management process, the more he or she can be at the helm of that change initiative.
Here are four ways a leader can act as a change agent to facilitate the change and increase the probability for successfully introducing the change into the organization.
Establish yourself as a role model
People look to leaders for guidance and inspiration. They view the leader’s position as a role model and an effective foundation on which to build the groundwork for change.
This is especially true when seen through the eyes of the status quo: if the leader, who is a decidedly great role model, embraces the change placed in front of them, people will be more inclined to trust it.
Resistance based on protecting the status quo isn’t always as easy as someone saying “But we have always done it this way…” or “People are used to…” It can appear in body gestures from sudden jerks to arm crossing. The only way to know for sure is to know the questions to ask.
Effective leaders are also great collaborators who have the talent to develop productive teams focused on managing the change. Using an effective and commonly applied change management process is a method leaders use to manage resistance to change. It typically follows these four high level phases:
By engaging a team to manage the change, you will develop a culture of trust with the focus to understand the issues and to find creative solutions together with the team. This will help build ownership into the change effort and will shift people’s thinking towards overcoming obstacles and embracing growth opportunities.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Resistance to change is not the cause of failure of change initiatives, it is the outcome of insufficient engagement, communication and understanding of people's needs. The resistance will be different for each change initiative, each organization and for each leader. Everyone in the organization should be empowered to challenge the status quo when things are not working. Then there will be no resistance when change is introduced.
Change is typically desired by employees if they see that the change will benefit them and the organization. Most of the time, change initiatives are undertaken in organizations, but the outcome is that nothing actually changes for the better or the actual change benefits are never communicated.
When leaders engage their employees and truly involve them in a worthwhile beneficial change, most people are very willing to participate to make the change a success.
Rania Kort is an Independent Management Consultant and Business Advisor with more than 20 years’ experience helping Fortune 100 companies successfully implement strategic initiatives. Rania has managed large-scale programs and programs, established and run PMO's and implemented process improvement in many different industries. She ran and grew an IT Management Practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers for more than seven years managing over 300 consultants. Currently, she serves as an independent consultant focusing on achieving results through collaboration and a team leadership approach that ensures alignment, accountability and trust to develop high-performance teams.