Should Leaders Fly Solo On The Change Management Journey?

Pixton_Comic_Classic_Change_Mangement_by_BillAccordino(click image to view)

We all know that driving change, preferably strategic change, is one of the primary responsibilities of leaders in all organizations.  One could argue that if a leader isn’t driving change they are not leading at all, they are managing the status quo.  There are countless books on change leadership and change management.  Typically the change leadership books are providing insights and guidance to leaders on how best to drive change.  Much of the advice to the teams of those leaders focuses on how best to accept change and “to become comfortable being uncomfortable”.

The challenge both the leaders and their teams have can best be described by one of my favorite quotes on change management:

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!” – Peter Senge, Author of The Fifth Discipline, MIT Professor

What can leaders do to reduce the likelihood that their teams feel like they are being changed?  Common sense would suggest that leaders should involve their teams in the change process as equal partners.  However, as is often the case, common sense isn’t commonly practiced.  The approach I have used successfully with multiple clients is what I call, Team-Based Change Leadership.  The process has six simple steps:

  1. Strategic Clarity–make sure everyone is on the same page, you need to breakdown the business strategy to the department and team levels.
  2. Identify the Future State–leaders and their teams need to identify what the organization will look like when the change process is completed.  The strategy mapping process needs to include the unique customer value proposition, internal processes and organizational structure, the talent and the organization culture.
  3. Assess the current state–this would include assessing all the areas referenced above.
  4. Develop a plan to close the gap
  5. Perform 80/20 analysis–you will not be able to change everything overnight. Prioritize required changes and determine the 20% that will provide 80% of the desired change.
  6. Execute Your 20% Flawlessly 

The most significant difference between this process and many change management processes is that the teams are involved upfront and actively participate in both the planning and the execution.  However, it is important to assess the readiness of the team to be an equal partner in this change process before starting.  If they are not ready then the leader may have to fly solo in the early stages.   The team assessment that I have used successfully with my clients is The Five Behaviors Of A Cohesive Team.

The bottom line is that the best way to get your teams to do what you need them to do, the way you need them to do it, and when you need them to do it, is to involve them in the change process upfront.

In future blogs I will drill down on the steps in the Team-Based Change Leadership process including The Five Behaviors Of A Cohesive Team.  If you would like to receive more information about this process in advance of future blogs, please complete the information below.

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