Change management: dancing through resilient transition

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Effective leaders must work to understand the values and opinions of their followers — rather than assuming absolute authority. Just follow the drunk dancing man …

Let’s take a fresh look at making change effective. Most change management methods and texts give focus to the leaders and sponsors of change. In addition, there is reference to communication and involvement plans, but little focus is given to leveraging the significant influence of key followers of change. People are seen as targets rather than followers. There is a crucial difference. The latter has influence and a special connection with the leader.

The importance of this connection between a leader and their team is never more pronounced than during times of major organisational change. Think about what is expected from the team; they are expected to:

  • Let go of what is comfortable and predictable;
  • Learn and apply new skills/knowledge/approaches;
  • Make themselves vulnerable;
  • Deal with ambiguity;
  • Continue to deliver results; and
  • Trust that all will be ok and that they will still have a job at the end.

In other words, change requires all employees to take risk. So leaders need to help their team understand and embrace the idea that the risk of the unknown, or the new, is less than the risk of continuing with the status quo.

Typically, “good” change managers first think about information and communication plans. Yet, without a leader connecting to their team, all of the information in the world will be of no help in taking the team in a new direction.

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