Manage change—or it will manage you. Leaders in today’s organizations are faced with this reality on a regular, if not daily, basis. In a rapidly changing world, the health of an organization depends on its ability to respond timely and appropriately to emerging opportunities, new threats, and societal and marketplace trends. Leaders who know how to leverage resources to effectively and efficiently lead their organizations through necessary change transformations while maintaining business fundamentals will always be in high demand—often replacing less effective leaders at the helm.
The role of leadership in change management cannot be underestimated. While other factors do come into play, the leader sets the tone for the organization. Success or failure often comes down to leaders’ ability to inspire and motivate their teams and to keep the organization aligned throughout the change process: they are the bridge between the organization and the change that is desired.
Three out of four change management initiatives fail in the long term. Why do some leaders seem to sail through the change transformation process to achieve enviable results, while others flounder to keep afloat? More often than not, the success or failure of a change initiative can be traced to the leader’s mindset, and/or their ability to communicate key ideas and principles relevant to the transformation effort.
AlignOrg Solutions has identified four critical change management and organization alignment principles leaders must focus on for successful transformation to take place:
- Vision. Without a clear vision for the desired outcome, a leader will have difficulty gaining buy-in from employees and stakeholders. It is imperative that a leader not only have an inspiring vision for the organization, but also be able to communicate it and create a compelling case for change.
- Connection. Good communication is only possible with understanding. Understanding is next to impossible when leaders remain isolated or disconnected from their employees. The most successful change transformation leaders are those who find ways to make themselves approachable and who encourage interactions that allow them to quickly learn what employees are thinking and feeling, so they can align their initiatives with the capabilities of their people.
- Accountability. Leaders set the tone for transformation by holding themselves and others accountable. This is difficult to achieve long-term in a culture driven by blame. Good leaders find ways to maintain a culture of transparency that fosters integrity and accountability at all levels of the organization.
- Alignment. There are many steps between the creation of a vision and its fulfillment. Most strategies require collaboration between multiple groups or functions within the organization; misalignment in even one area can throw the entire endeavor off track. Effective leaders don’t stop at strategy creation; they also take measures to ensure that every area of the organization is fully aligned to that strategy to enable effective and efficient value delivery.
Organization change is a complex, time consuming process at best. The role of leadership in change management is key. Mastery of these four principles equips a leader to manage change rather than be managed by it, so that the transformation can progress as quickly and painlessly as possible. Leaders who commit to building their capabilities in these areas enjoy the respect of employees and stakeholders, and are far more likely to lead their organizations to profound, lasting, and profitable change.