Industry Insights

Guide: What is Change Leadership?

Posted by John Wills on Mar 24, 2023 3:55:31 PM

Change Leadership is a leadership style that focuses on guiding and inspiring individuals and their employing organizations through profound changes. Those who are inspired or hold a vision for change are known as change leaders, and they often possess a unique set of skills, such as the ability to anticipate change, aptitude for fostering an innovation culture, the ability to inspire others, and a positive attitude and approach toward challenges. 

In this guide we will explore and answer:
    •    Why you need to start practicing Change Leadership
    •    What are the significant benefits of Change Leadership
    •    What are the key elements of Change Leadership
    •    How to create Change Leadership

Effective Change Leaders understand that change is not just about doing things differently, but about inspiring and empowering individuals and organizations to embrace new ways of thinking, working, and problem-solving.

"Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence." - Sheryl Sandberg

Why You Need to Start Practicing Change Leadership
Change leadership is necessary in today's VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) world because it helps organizations and individuals to navigate and thrive despite an ever-changing landscape. The VUCA challenges that leaders face require considerable adaptability and agility. It is within Change Leaders that you will find the tangible skills and mindset to respond to these challenges.

As we learn more about Change Leaders, we see that they understand that volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity are not just challenging to overcome, but are also opportunities for growth and improvement. This was one of the maxims of Marcus Aurelius and remains true to this day. These leaders use their skills to create a vision for change and a roadmap for success, and then work to inspire and engage others in realizing that vision. This helps organizations and individuals not only to survive but to  thrive in the dynamic evolutions of business and the workplace.

As Jack Welsh, the famous author of numerous leadership books, once said, “Change before you have to”.

What are the Significant Benefits of Change Leadership?

    1    Discovery: Change Leaders must first discover the need for change by staying attuned to the needs of their organizations and stakeholders. This requires mastery of soft skills, empathy, and good communication with colleagues to really understand what is going on. They must also be able to identify opportunities for improvement and growth, and then assess the resources and capacities required to make any kind of desired change happen.

    2    Creation: Change Leaders must then, armed with their discovery and knowledge, create a vision for change, find ways to communicate that vision effectively, and engage others in realizing that vision. Winning buy-in and support for change can verge on the impossible in highly traditional organizations with entrenched working practices, so a Change Leader will need to develop a clear strategy, establish goals and objectives, and direct the resources required to bring about change.

    3    Leverage: Finally, Change Leaders must leverage the results of change by measuring progress, assessing outcomes, and making course corrections as needed. This not only keeps them accountable to their project for change, but it gives colleagues and stakeholders motivation to get involved or find ways to show their support. They must also celebrate and recognize success, for the same reasons.

The best Change Leaders understand that change is not a one-time event, but a continuous process that requires ongoing attention and effort.

"A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be." - Rosalynn Carter

What are the Key Elements of Change Leadership?
Below are some crucial factors of Change Leadership, but it’s important to remember that you don’t need to have all of these attributes to be an effective Change Leader. Some may be more important than others in your role, the organization itself, the existing company culture, and the vision for change. 

    •    Vision: Developing a clear and compelling vision for change that inspires and motivates others
    •    Communication: Communicating the vision for change effectively and engaging others in realizing that vision
    •    Strategy: Developing a clear strategy for change, including establishing goals and objectives and marshaling the resources required to bring about change
    •    Engagement: Engaging stakeholders and encouraging their participation and commitment to change
    •    Adaptability: Being adaptable and agile, and having the ability to respond to challenges and obstacles
    •    Inspiration: Inspiring and motivating others to embrace change and to see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement
    •    Measurement: Measuring progress and assessing outcomes to refine and improve approaches to change leadership continuously and logically
    •    Recognition: Celebrating and recognizing success and the positive impact of change
    •    Continuous Improvement: Continuously refining and improving approaches to change leadership in order to achieve even better results in the future

"The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist." - Eric Hoffer

How to Create a “Change Culture”
No guide to Change Leadership would be complete without some actionable tips to get you started on your journey. Now, be aware that it won’t be easy, that resistance to change is easier than embracing it, and that you will likely have to overcome significant obstacles. What’s important to remember is that obstacles are also opportunities, if you learn how to see them.

Here’s what a Change Leader might do to change the culture in their organization, making change easier than before:
    1    Communicate a clear vision: Start by communicating a clear and compelling vision for change that inspires and motivates others. This vision should be communicated in a way that is easily understood and that resonates with colleagues at all levels, from the shop floor to the boardroom.
    2    Engage stakeholders: Engage stakeholders at all levels, and encourage their participation and commitment to change. This helps build buy-in and support for change initiatives and creates a sense of shared ownership and responsibility. There’s no better supporter for your project than an inspired colleague.
    3    Foster a culture of innovation: Encourage a culture of innovation by providing opportunities for individuals and teams to experiment, test new ideas, and continuously improve processes and procedures. This needs to be a safe space, the best way to create this culture of innovation (and therefore a culture of change) is through the use of business simulations.
    4    Embrace transparency: Create an open and transparent environment that encourages open communication and the sharing of information and ideas. This helps build trust and helps to address challenges and obstacles more effectively. Where some see a blocker, others see an opportunity.
    5    Lead by example: Model the behavior and attitudes that you want to see in others. Demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement, and show how change can lead to positive outcomes and results.

By following these steps, you can create a Change Culture that inspires and motivates individuals and teams, and fosters innovation and continuous improvement.

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." - Steve Jobs

Contact Us Today to Begin the Change!
Are you ready to become a Change Leader? Experiential learning through immersive business simulations is the most effective way for your organization to prepare for change, testing and developing real-world skills in a safe space.

Contact us to find out how you and your organization can benefit.

More Insights

What is Learning in the Flow of Work?

In today's fast-paced business world, ensuring your employees...

Learn More

Managers are becoming mentors

Mentoring helps employees develop confidence, skills and...

Learn More

Identifying and developing high potential employees

High potential employees are the future of your organization....

Learn More

How to Lead and Manage Diverse and International Teams

In today's global business landscape, adeptly managing a team...

Learn More

Get the most out of your remote workforce

Remote working has become the norm in many organizations and...

Learn More

Why healthy workplaces matter

There are many elements that combine to make a healthy...

Learn More