Wednesday 27th May 2020
Change presents a challenge. Whether it is change driven by an opportunity for success, or a reaction to hazards, there are always difficulties to be traversed. From a business leadership perspective, you have a huge influence on the success of the transition, and your actions will be reflected in the actions of those that work for and with you. With this in mind, there are a few key points that you should think about if you’re to be an effective leader during any turbulent period.
When it comes to business philosophy, there is a school of thought that says the most important quality of leadership is the ability to inspire others. Where ‘managers’ set the day-to-day, leaders show how it is done, and take a bigger picture approach. Whether you subscribe to this wholeheartedly or not, it is hard to argue that inspiration is not critical to leading people through challenging times. Whether you are a very senior business leader, or just part of the leadership team, it is up to you to be someone to look towards as things progress. If people look up to you, and they can see that you are taking changes on board, and altering the way you do things, then they will too. ‘Be the change you want to see’ is an apt idiom.
Be a great communicator
Confusion is often the enemy of effective business change. Mixed messaging or a feeling of being left in the dark amongst a company’s people can seriously damage outcomes. Good leaders will spend time to ensure that their messaging is on point. It needs to be clear, concise and even empathetic. Ensure everyone knows where the business is headed, why the change is happening, and what everyone needs to do. By communicating well, you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse of the business at all levels and draw in information from all corners of the enterprise. Remembering that communication goes in more than one direction is really important; you must give others the time to communicate their concerns and advice to you. Half of being a great communicator is the art of listening. Steve Jobs once said that ‘It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.’ Take this on board.
Create a pathway
Planning is a core business function, and this is certainly no different when it comes to change. While great leaders will encourage employees to follow them, it is also critically important to lay out a plan. Developing strategy will help stay the course, and keep things moving throughout the transition, whether the change is generally positive, or down to a negative impact. Having contingency plans, and modelling different scenarios is also a good idea, as this can ensure smooth progress if things don’t quite go to the original plan. Going back to the previous point, you need to consider why change is happening, the point that the business needs to reach, and the steps that are needed to get there. Plan accordingly and you will come out of the process looking like a true leader.