Leaders are responsible for establishing the strategic direction of an organization and effectively disrupting the status quo to achieve new results. The truth is change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. While change can happen to any business due to market shifts, economic downturns or plain bad luck, strong leaders imagine, direct and inspire others to create the changes they want to see happen. As we all start to consider our strategic direction for 2015 and plan for what we want to achieve, let’s take a look at what it truly takes to get people to follow where you lead.
To successfully guide people through the difficulties of change, leaders must align people with their goals and provide whatever new training is needed to deliver on the identified strategies. Yet, leading change can be tricky. Change is hard! Leaders must connect what is good for the organization’s future with what is good for the individual, and then engage each person into contributing to that future.
It all starts in the hearts and minds of your people, as one of the biggest obstacles to change is fear of the unknown…also known as change. When a person feels uncomfortable or even afraid, leaders must help them see learning as an opportunity to grow through change. When something new is happening, we have to encourage people to take a leap of faith that the future change is more compelling to them than the current situation. Understanding how to get people to embrace change versus resist it is the first step in shifting an organization to reach its full potential.
Rather than focus on the discomforts of change, leaders can help their people realize the benefits of it and embrace what’s possible. It is important to lead your people to a positive perspective around change by asking the questions that help them see what’s in it for them.
Fear does more to hold people and organizations back than lack of ability. Fear can be a powerful de-motivator. Most people worry about what they don’t know and how it might affect the world they do know.
When people feel incompetent they tend to disconnect with their peers, blame others, or cover up their mistakes. I call this tendency the “Lie of Leadership,” and it slows down organizational progress.
To avoid the “Lie of Leadership,” leaders must open communication even more than normal during times of change.
What’s the real result of embracing change?
New results become possible. You never know what you, your people or your organization are capable of until you push beyond what you thought you could achieve, and strive for more. By supporting a healthy and benefit-driven perspective on change, you help your people learn to embrace it and grow the skills and competencies they need to succeed, ultimately improving performance and profitability.