The Anatomy of Change 3/3: How Successful Leaders Implement Change in 5 Simple Steps.

Welcome to week 3 of the Anatomy of Change series!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

By now, we have Cracked the Change Code and understand why we tend to fear change. Moreover, we also know the Power of Leading Yourself Thru CHANGE and how to do it.

Today we’ll walk through the process of leading others through change. And although my post will focus on business environment, with small adjustments, whatever you learn here today can apply to our personal life as well.

Let’s start by exploring the leading causes of change in most organizations: social forces, technology advancements & environmental / market shifts.

First – Social forces

Changes in society whether caused by massive movements or different generations have sparked significant changes in how businesses run: think unions and employee rights; human rights ( equality and inclusion between genders and races); millennials and younger generations or Baby boomers, etc.

We could spend another series of posts exploring those here so for now let’s move on. However, if you’d like to know more about any of these, let me know, I’ll be happy to write more about them.

Second – Technology advancements

Thanks to the late 20th and 21st-century technology advancements our world has never developed as fast as it is now.

Because of the availability and affordability of the Internet, smartphones, and other devices, the world is connected like never before.

Can you imagine that as of the first quarter of 2019, Facebook had 2.38 billion monthly active users! YouTube and Instagram exceeded a billion this year as well. The stats are mind-blowing. 

And this is only one small part of technology advancements. There are tons more in medicine, other sciences, finance (bitcoin), virtual reality, etc.

We are in the age of exponential growth where 80% of the technology we’ll be using in 10-20 years hasn’t been even invented yet – isn’t it fascinating and scary at the same time?

Third – Environmental shifts

What I mean by the environment is climate and Mother Earth but also the environment in which any business operates in, i.e., their markets. And within those: customers and their needs affected by all the changes we just talked about, existing competitors, new entrants, changes to legislation (ex. lead by the environmental concerns), etc.

The above three main forces tend to create a need for change in businesses. And it’s such need that is the first and foremost prerequisite for you as a leader to be successful at leading people through change.

People need to feel unease about current conditions to be receptive to the idea of change. As otherwise, if they think everything is great, it’ll be quite hard for them to change.

Once there is a need, then the process can start.

Below are 5 simple strategies that will allow you to lead others through any change successfully.

1. Understand the anatomy of change

“Even those who fancy themselves the most progressive will fight against other kinds of progress, for each of us is convinced that our way is the best way.”

Louis L’Amour, The Lonely Men

If you’ve read my posts from the past two weeks, you now understand how change works and why most people fear it even if it’s positive. Understanding the anatomy of change, as well as knowing your people, will allow you to choose the right strategies, help them adopt the changes necessary for your business.

2. Prepare before rolling anything out

As they say, planning is everything. Spend 80% of your time planning to ensure that you will have an as robust and flexible roadmap as possible.

Moreover, by planning I don’t mean doing it alone. Inclusion is key. Going out there and talking to your people, asking questions, listening to their concerns and suggestions will save you from significant oversights. It’ll also help you discover solutions and options that you wouldn’t have thought about yourself. 

And above all, those conversations will help you with creating the momentum for change in the larger organization.

There’s one more thing to remember about the preparation.

You can lead people through change only if you believe in its necessity, value to all, and change yourself first to be the example. 

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate

The art of communication is the language of leadership – James Humes

Once you have a road map, a plan, etc. it’s time to start the communication. Have a strategy for this as well. Don’t be let to believe that all the brainstorming and solutions finding talks you had with your people prior was enough to get them fully on-board to implement the change.

To implement the change, you need to reach all the people affected, not just the ones that participated in preparation. You also need to separate prep from implementation so that it’s evident in everyone’s mind in what stage they are.

There’s a theory that to communicate with people, especially with large groups effectively; you need to do it at least 7 times, 7 different ways (in person one-on-one and groups, calls, e-mails, brochures, formally and informally, etc.). But honestly, the larger the group, the more times and ways you’ll need.

Now you’re probably thinking ok, but what should I communicate at this stage then?

First of all, explain to everyone why the change is needed. It will remind your people of the unease they have in current situation.

Next, present the pros and potential challenges of the change. Be authentic, do not hide anything. Let’s be real; nothing is perfect.

Also, help your people finding the “what’s in it for me.”

And most of all, remember that any communication is a two-way street. Ensure you listen, allow everyone to ask questions, and raise any concerns that come up. People must be heard at this stage as well.

4. Be there for your people

Part of the preparation stage is to plan for help and support for your people during the implementation. Whether it’s training, advice, or additional resources, you’ll need to ensure they’re supported every step of the way. Your job as a leader is to remove roadblocks from the journey.

Above all else, you must be there for them emotionally.

Leaders must have empathy, inspire people with a compelling vision, and celebrate small wins every step of the way.

Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.

John Maxwell

5. Be flexible

Just like in life and any project, nothing ever goes 100% as we planned it. It’s not different or even more so with change implementation. Therefore, expecting setback, and being prepared to adjust as needed, will help you be more successful at it.

“Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.”

Frances Hesselbein

To sum up, leading change for your organization is not easy, although the main strategies are simple. The bigger the move and the bigger the business, the harder it is. You will need to use all your leadership skills and strengths to implement it successfully. And because change is something unavoidable and more and more common, growing and improving your leadership skills is key to being successful in today’s day and age. 

I can help you with this kind of change: leadership self-development and skill building. It’s a journey that not only enables you to become successful but also makes you grow as a person. Imagine how successful you could be using those skills in other areas of your life!

If you’re open-minded to try and explore it, then let’s talk! I will be more than happy to connect with you. All it takes is less than 30 seconds of courage to send me an email by clicking here 😊.

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