Leadership in Change – Bringing the team with you

Change It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead – and find no one there

F.D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)

Business leaders of large and small enterprises have always grappled with the challenge of effecting changes within their organisations.

Most people do not like change and do not readily embrace it voluntarily.  Even the language which justifies the status quo “The devil you know is better than….” shows how deep rooted the opposition can be.

Nonetheless in a world of ever shorter product/service life cycles, and in order to survive, organisations are forced to embrace never ending change, notwithstanding the discomfort with the concept, and the Leader’s challenge is to bring the people of the organisation with him/her along the journey of change.

In my experience the required resources to support significant change projects are usually in scarce supply, notably that of available senior management time.  This is particularly so in the lean organisations of today, and in a business world devoid of spare cash and accessible bank facilities.

I have always found it useful as a business leader to consider the proposed change project, be it a new product/service launch, a new market entry, a new branding project or whatever, as an elephant which needs to be eaten “bite by bite”.

One of these “bites” is to overcome the overt or covert scepticism about the change amongst key staff members.

In many cases such scepticism is healthy as any change project will be the better for having won over its sceptics as well as having satisfied its supporters, but on the basis that all must travel the road together, and in step, then dealing with the sceptics is an important element in the change project.

Conventional economic theory suggests that the correct prioritising of the steps to be taken is to go first for the most economically advantageous the “Big Win”.

That might be appropriate in many cases but I invite consideration be given to the prioritisation of the step that leads to the “Early Win” or even, if available, the “Easy Win”.

Nothing improves morale and inspires confidence in the Leader and the process better than the achievement of a goal through a planned sequence of actions carefully thought through and well executed.  It provides a tonic for the organisation sceptical of change, and stimulates the appetite of the organisational team, and its capacity, to explore more complex or challenging change issues ahead.

John Bowen - Beacon InitiativeJohn R Bowen – Management Consultancy

John is part of the Beacon Initiative, Grow Programme Virtual Management Team, which can assist qualifying SME’s to grow through the provision of management expertise that may not be accessible to them currently

2 thoughts on “Leadership in Change – Bringing the team with you

  1. Very good article, John. You are certainly right by going after the ‘early win’ to bid up a sense of confidence in the Team – and at the start of any project there is always ‘low hanging fruit’ which can be tackled first to give the project a bit of momentum. I tend to use a concept called ‘Action Planning’ where a large task is broken down into diary driver weekly action items – and critically examined on a weekly basis.If the 10 or so action items are followed in sequence and on time the major task is put to bed before they realize it.

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