You’ve set the strategic direction, and the project initiation is underway, your organisation is going through a huge change. There is an expectation from the majority of employees, stakeholders and customers that transformation is going to happen. You know it starts with you, but how can you personally do the right thing when navigating change? As a leader, tapping into your higher self is vital when leading transformational organisational change. By tapping into your higher self you are invoking the energy and creative skills which propels the changes you need to make.
Gandhi wasn’t wrong when he said words which have been condensed to the famous quote “be the change you want to see”. Walking and talking the change is required at every level of the organisation. This includes you as the leader.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” Gandhi
One of the most inspirational leaders I have met headed a large local authority. The changes he was overseeing were transformational and impactful. Knowing how difficult cultural change can be especially when the circumstances are challenging with job cuts and more being demanded from people, I asked him. “How do you make sure your vision, values and outcomes are alive horizontally and vertically across your organisation?” He replied, “I have built a senior team who passionately shares our joint vision, and are willing to do what it takes to get there; whenever I hear anything which is contrary to our vision and values or encounters a situation which is impacting results, I personally challenge it”.
Wow, I thought, that’s a real commitment. What he said to me showed that leaders play a pivotal role. In this situation, he was a leader who was congruent with his values and lived them every day. As a leader in your organisation, there are two strands which you must pay attention to create transformational organisational change.
1. Turning strategic aspiration into operational reality
For any transformational organisational change, you must make sure that the strategic vision becomes alive through the operational processes and policies. Quite often the actual embedding of cultural change through the organisation is an afterthought. There are three parts to this.
Know your organisational story
You must know your organisational story by heart. You know where you have come from, where you are going and the difficulties you might face. Change does not happen without flow. There is always some resistance to even the smallest change. The vision and narrative you are working towards must be strong enough to overcome this resistance. You need to know and be able to tell your organisational story as if it were a fact. If you don’t know your story or don’t really agree with it, there will be a mismatch in the change you want to make.
Implement and understand your holistic plan
You might have a project manager who is overseeing the change. However, a leader must play a pivotal role. It is your business to make sure the change is joined up, inclusive and flexible. The change must traverse through the multi-dimensions of your organisation. Your plan must address the changes needed at all levels of the organisation. Depending on your own priorities you might feel some levels are more important than others. But do not fall into this trap. There is really no hierarchy in change because at every level it impacts your employees, customers and stakeholders. It will impact your infrastructure, policies and procedures. In order to value those impacted by the change, you need to show they are supported wherever they are in the change process.
Commit to helping your employees at all levels through the change
Change is scary. Without a commitment from the senior team, dealing with fears and human reactions can become just another part of the process. The process can diminish the reality of the acute anxiety change can engender in people. It is important that as part of the change process, support is put in place to help employees through the change. Missing this step out might not mean the change won’t happen, but it might take much longer, and you might suffer greater stress and casualties along the way.
2. Being the change you want to see
This second strand is all about you. You know the leader can play a pivotal role in the change. Therefore, as well as making sure you commit to and understand the change processes, as a leader, you must demonstrate the change you want to see. There are three specific ways you can “be” the change.
The energy you bring to the change
Quantum science is indeed showing us all that we are at the core of our being, radiating units of energy. We all know on a level the impact our emotions can have on others. Just spend a night with a friend who is down in the dumps and you will witness energetic vibration in action. Glumness can be infectious in the same way as joyfulness can make others smile. As a leading player in the organisation, it is essential that the energy you emit about the change is authentic, positive and believable.
Harbour great expectations for your employees
Our expectations turn into our reality. This can be a bit of a stretch for some to believe, but science is indeed showing that how we look at our world affects the way the world responds. With this in mind, then it is clear, the way to get the best out of your people during the change is to expect the best from them. Even if your people are demonstrating resistance during the change, know this is just part of the process and doesn’t mean anything about them. Expect them to embrace the process and succeed in the change.
Your personal credibility
Without a doubt, change can bring out the worst in your employees and resistance can be high. Time and time again, I have seen change become a source of conflict and resentment when the senior leaders have not demonstrated personal credibility. Being personally credible of course means walking the talk, talking the talk and daily living the values you want to see in your organisation.
So there you have it, some of the ways senior people must play their part in leading transformational organisational change. Do you have any other ways you think the top team should demonstrate a commitment to change?
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