I am speaking at an event later this week; on leading through change. It’s a great topic — a timely and timeless one; as change will not go away and leading well through the change it is the only way to affect proper change. So I am going through the practical steps that a leader can take to affect change — what we know works and what we know almost guarantees failure.
In going through this, there’s one thing that is glaringly obvious — and that is a leader cannot affect change, without having the right team around him/her.
Too often, leaders try to implement change in spite of their team rather than with their team, and then wonder why it doesn’t work. It is pushing it up a hill if you are fighting against those that are meant to be on your side and helping you as well as trying to convince those in the rest of the organisation.
This can lead to a conundrum; what do you do if someone just won’t get with the programme? If they are a reasonable contributor but for the fact that they are not getting on board with the change. Or worse, that they consciously or not, block the change.
Ultimately, when reflecting on changes that have been successful — it is almost always without exception that the whole leadership team has been on board, and visibly supporting the change. Even, if privately a team member has reservations, there is a tacit agreement that any such dissent will be saved for behind closed doors, and that there will be a public face of unity and support for the change.
Of course, this is easier said than done. But it comes down to the degree to which you want the change to be successful. It is unlikely to be successful if the members of your team actively or passively detracting from the change effort. So, if the change is important, there are decisions that need to be made.
Sometimes, this is just about better explaining, persuading, clarifying the change to the relevant team member. Sometimes, it is about explaining their crucial role in leading the change. Sometimes, it is about listening to their dissent and building in their objections if possible. Sometimes it is about giving them a more critical role within the change effort. But sometimes, as good at their job as they may be, they may not be the right person for this job if they can’t ultimately get on board and support the change.
Some questions to ponder:
- Do you have the right people supporting you on your team?
- If not, could this be why change is hard?
- What can you do to persuade, influence or convince those people to come on board?
- And ultimately, how critical is it that the change occurs?
If you are not getting the answers that you like to those questions, perhaps it is time to have a different conversation.
Until next week, happy leading.