What do you need to be a change leader? Well, a couple of things are needed – first you need to have a vision, then you need to know what you want and what you want to achieve and then you need to be cognisant of the impact your change will make on the team and the organisation. You may not be fully aware of the “how” but you need to have a strong conviction of the “what”.
I was recently facilitating a leadership workshop at a large Healthcare firm and the topic of leading change came up. We could have spent the whole 2 days discussing this because it is an area that scares the bejeesus out us as individuals and is very challenging when we are expected to lead people through the change. Two different concepts were discussed: being a change leader and leading change and what’s required for both. Below, I am focusing on being a change leader.
A change leader is someone who isn’t afraid to stand for something different, to have a difference of opinion, to have conviction in those opinions and to act on them. Being able to visualize what a future state looks like is essential and generally needs an active imagination or at least a curious and creative mind. Then, being able to share that vision in an understandable and engaging way, communicating in a way that suits all members of the audience and helps them clarify and see the bigger picture.
You can imagine and think about things on your own but bringing those ideas into being and making them a reality is the tough piece. Exciting people about your concept, bringing them into your vision is all about having a great story to tell, letting them see how they fit into it, how they will benefit from what you are suggesting – making it personal to them.
So, what’s your idea for change? Or do you have no idea yet?
If you have an idea in the making, think about one thing related to your job, function or business that frustrates you. There may be a few of these depending on your business and role, so narrow the focus to things you can directly control or are able to affect. There’s no point trying to change the world or “boil the ocean”. Choose your battles wisely.
Ideas can come from a number of different sources:
The Three Ps:
- Processes : broken process -part of a process that is consistently frustrating or takes too long; a step in a process that isn’t required; a process within a process
- People : a common skill gap in a team which needs to be addressed to enhance productivity.
- Product : a product feature that is no longer value-add to the customer; it could be a missing feature that should be added
The Four Relationships:
- Customers : What is the customer telling you, what feedback are you getting that tells you of changes that should be made to a process or product that impacts customers?
- Employees ; What are your employee surveys telling you? Are there things impacting the productivity or engagement levels of the staff? If you don’t have employee surveys to refer to, here’s your first idea – implement them!
- Leaders : What are the bosses saying? What are the key themes that come up in the business meetings that you can influence or have some impact on? Is there a constant gripe that your boss has, that you could fix? Show some initiative and really strengthen the relationship with the person who can help accelerate your career.
- Competitors : What are your competitors doing? Could you tell someone the key differences between your business and your competitors? If not, what changes could you make that can set you apart, or what different respected business practices can you adopt?
So, now you have a clearer idea of what you could do. But you still need to make sure your idea is something that will get the right support, will add the right value and will ultimately reflect well on you.
Use this checklist to see if your idea is something worth pursuing:
- Is it part of my role?
- Is it something my boss / peers would expect me to do?
- Do I have the expertise or knowledge to take it on?
- Do I have people around me who can fill the gaps of knowledge / expertise if necessary?
- Can I be bothered? Do I have the time and resources available to pursue this?
- Is it necessary for the business or a ‘nice to have’.
- Have I got my boss’ support or, if not, would it be easy to get?
- Is it the right time for the business – can I link this to some key initiative that’s happening to help garner support?
- Am I going to frustrate someone by doing this, am I taking their idea?
- How long will it take and what is the cost to complete it? Is this a realistic change project?
If you have answered “yes” to most of these questions (except 9!), then you have a great idea in the making. Get it on paper and make the pitch to your boss!