Are you a ‘change-capable’ leader?

Implementing a change within an organisation should focus less on the outcome, and more on the process, says one leadership expert

Are you a ‘change-capable’ leader?
The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) defines ‘change-capable leadership’ as forging a “common direction around change, and how to align people and resources toward that change direction”.

“Most importantly, it is about how to build the collective commitment – often referred to as buy-in – to making the change effort successful.”

At the recently concluded HR Leaders Asia conference in Singapore, Chris Dewar, faculty director, design and delivery, APAC for CCL added that ‘change-capable’ leaders should keep the three Cs of change in mind: communicate, collaborate, commit.

“Successful leaders focus on communicating the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ behind the change. They build teams, work across boundaries, and encourage employees to take on responsibilities and tackle challenges,” he said.

“They also include employees early on in the decision-making process and describe employees as having a high-level of buy-in and can-do attitudes.”

‘Change-capable’ leaders are also able to change their behaviours and leadership styles based on the effort they are leading, he added.

“One of the frequently mentioned approaches shared by leaders of successful change was displaying a positive attitude and enthusiasm toward the change. These leaders were resilient, didn’t give up in the face of adversity or opposition, and stepped out of their comfort zone,” he said.

They focus more on the big picture rather than the day-to-day needs of the change effort, he said. 

Dewar also cautioned leaders to avoid falling into the three change traps commonly interfering with a successful change effort by asking these three questions:

•    Are you being too passive?
•    Are you going it alone?
•    Where is your attention and focus?

Avoid leading passively by finding a balance between having too much control of the situation and giving it too little attention.

Think collaboration, not competition, said Dewar. 

“Avoid taking an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ position, dictating change instead of leading it and ignoring others’ views,” he said.

Rein in your expectations of what the outcome of the change will be and focus more on the process, he advised.

“Leaders who weren’t able to navigate change successfully lost focus on the change initiative by trying to focus on work unrelated to the outcome of the change without also focusing on the process of the change,” he said. 

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