“Take another trip around the hamster wheel!” This quote is how my client fondly referred to our project and the Change Leader’s Roadmap™ (CLR) methodology that is guiding my work, after we had created a second phase implementation plan for his company.
One of the costliest mistakes in leading change is for leaders to ask something of the people in their organization and then not do it themselves. Walking the talk of change is not just a nice phrase; it has teeth! Organizational change, especially when it is transformational, sticks to the degree that leaders model it. In transformational change, the “Go change them!” (“and not me mandate!”) just won’t fly.
We have surveyed thousands of leaders and managers about their key risk factors in leading change. By far, having adequate capacity for change is their number one issue. Most report that they have too much change going on and no capacity to lead or execute it successfully. Often, the need to create capacity for change is not even on leaders’ radar. Without adequate capacity, change will fail.
What is a Case for Change?
When you initiate a change in your organization, your stakeholders and leaders will have questions about what is changing, why it is needed, the scope of the change, its urgency, outcomes, etc. Great change leadership starts with your case for change. Your case for change answers these questions so your impacted stakeholders and leaders can understand the purpose for the change initiative.
Change initiatives need the same clear and thoughtful governance as your organization’s operations. It may seem obvious that establishing change governance is important for a change initiative to be successful, but planning for it is often skipped in the rush to get started. Leaders may press for a plan of action that does not include effective governance to get a solution designed and deployed as quickly as possible. This is faulty thinking! Effective governance must be created from the very beginning to enable speed, efficiency, and effectiveness in designing and executing change.
After more than three decades of supporting executives in organizations undergoing transformational change, we are in a unique position to recognize common mistakes in how change is being led across industries. Many of our clients ask how we can so readily name the challenging dynamics they face without having worked inside their organizations. The answer is, these are common mistakes, and they are not unique to any one organization.
Most organizations undergoing change have various types of change support staff in place. But each is not always equipped to ensure that you get the full return on investment by influencing change initiatives from start to finish. Are you, as a change leader or consultant, equipped with the skills, knowledge, and influence that allow you to strategically guide change initiatives from the start to sustained business results? Is your organization aware of the value added from change leadership?
No business leader worth their salt would run their business without a solid business strategy. In today’s dynamic marketplace, executing those business strategies often requires change, frequently massive transformational change.
Sponsorship: One of the Most Important Leadership Roles in Change
In any change initiative, the sponsor is one of the most important change leadership roles. This is especially true if your change initiative is transformational where real breakthrough is the goal. By now, you probably know the data that 60-70% of all change initiatives fail. As a change leader or change consultant, you rely on your change sponsor to ensure that your change initiative succeeds. As you may have experienced, the level of skill, knowledge, and thinking of change sponsors can vary drastically. Understanding the capability of your sponsors can help you to assist in their development as change leaders to up-level the quality of their sponsorship.
You're an executive, and you’ve come up with brilliant ideas to transform your organization into a better, more successful company. Now, all you have to do is enact these major changes and your organization will be better for it. But wait - who will lead this change? Unclear change leadership can lead to confusion in roles, governing structure, decision-making, resourcing, timeline, prioritization, and conflicts with daily operations.
Our brains are hardwired to resist change. When change (especially organizational change) is mentioned or introduced, it often triggers a fear response, which is why most of us are so darn resistant to our familiar world deviating from what we know, even by the smallest degree.
Most of us strive to be leaders, but we’re all just normal human beings, first and foremost. We all have an ego that is conditioned to respond to situations as we do. These are our habits, tendencies, and default ways of being, working and relating. We also all have a higher Self, or Being, that allows us to observe our ego’s in action and make change when we are consciously aware.