Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Change is Not a Destination But a Process

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The facilitation of change is not the responsibility of any single individual, but is guided and directed by leadership on many different levels. Because change is dynamic, leadership must be equally so to keep pace with the opportunities and challenges it brings.

Leaders must understand change is not a destination but a process. The global economy does not allow leaders the luxury of resting on their laurels. Rather, it gives them the impetus to change and adapt on a frequent and regular basis. A failure to adapt opens the door to the forces of change overwhelming an organization.

A “management mentality” in the face of change produces a specific outcome, which is essentially to ask, “The organization is changing—now what?”

Leaders on the other hand become the real and active facilitators of change. They understand the forces behind it and use its dynamics as a means to effectively and repeatedly transform their organization. Rather than fear the concept of change, leaders welcome the opportunities it affords them.

Facilitating change within any organization requires proactive participation from all of its leaders. In the dynamic atmosphere of change, leaders must be ever-present and visible. There are a number of proven leadership techniques one can employ to successfully facilitate change within their organization, including:

Promoting Their Vision Daily

The importance of the leader’s personal vision is a guiding and fundamental leadership principle. It is not sufficient for leaders to simply state their vision; they must actively promote and talk about it at every opportunity. It is necessary for leaders to continually remind employees of their direction as they guide them step-by-step through the processes, transitions, problems and successes en route to attaining their vision.

As changes occur within an organization, leaders must take advantage of every opportunity to spotlight events and people in order to showcase individual and group initiatives demonstrating progress toward the defined vision.

Leading by Personal Example

One of the most valuable resources available to a leader is time. Time is at a premium, and leaders must schedule carefully to achieve what is personally important to them. When employees see that their leaders are organized around the strategic priorities established to facilitate change, it communicates that they are in earnest about their personal initiatives.

As a general practice, leaders need to adjust their personal calendars to reflect the strategic priorities of facilitating change. This communicates that the leader is leading with action to back up their words, as they are focusing their time specifically upon the point of change.

Practicing Visible Leadership

Leaders cannot lead from behind a desk or office door. They must be present at the point of change to train, coach, cajole and comfort.

Leaders can only observe and learn when they are in the midst of their employees during the implementation of change. This is not a one-time event, but an ongoing exercise. This is why the efficient scheduling of time is critical if leaders want to be actively involved in the direct facilitation of change transformations.

Being a Compulsive Listener

Leaders have one primary responsibility: to go out and listen to their employees. It should not be done in a passive style of listening, but one where leaders actively engage their employees, learn from their frustrations, take action to clean up a particular stressful or unproductive situation, and enthusiastically encourage each one of them. The process of facilitating change requires that leaders make it an ongoing habit to actively listen and make necessary changes based upon what they specifically learn and observe.

Honoring Your Frontline Staff

Leaders understand that the point of change happens in the front lines of their organization. While it impacts the entire organization, the front lines are the apex of change. This is where its real impact is felt—and where leaders must directly focus their time, efforts and attention.

In this regard, leaders should be honoring their frontline employees. They accomplish this by celebrating all major and minor successes and learning from failures as they test new ideas and concepts.

Delegating

When leaders delegate they are not only freeing up valuable time, they are empowering and training others to perform key tasks. Proper delegation allows leaders to be more responsive to the needs of their organization because they can get out from under tasks demanding their time and hindering their ability to lead. The key to successful delegation is the maintenance of high standards for those the leader designates to perform the delegated work.

Managing Horizontally

When leaders manage horizontally, they are opening up communications and responsiveness at the front lines of their organization, and across multiple functions. This minimizes the delays of bureaucratic up and down communications and replaces it with faster frontline communications across functional boundaries. This allows leaders to test, try, modify, and act on ideas quickly, and facilitates change more rapidly at its apex and focal point.

Questioning Daily Progress

It is easy for leaders to mask a number of functions, items and agendas under the label of change. An effective leader constantly questions his or her progress on a daily basis and asks, “What exactly have I changed?”

Rather than measuring progress over time, leaders understand that facilitating change involves countless decisions and minor changes that produce organizational modifications, alterations or elimination of unproductive practices across many planes and avenues. They are more pragmatic about looking at specific daily changes to ensure that transformations are taking place throughout their organization.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

While the nature of change brings about its own sense of pressure, leaders must continually reinforce their personal sense of urgency to overcome all of the potentially paralyzing fears employees may experience due to change and its compelling nature. Every action and activity a leader undertakes must also be viewed as an unequivocal call for urgency in the pursuit of constant testing and improvement in subsequent change transformations throughout the organization.

Excerpt: Facilitating Change: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Related:

Managing Change: The Transition From Chaos to Order

Anticipating and Handling Employee Fears of Change

Managers as Facilitators of Change

7 Ways to Use Change to Increase Performance

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Impact of Change on Individuals: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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2 Responses

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  1. Good points here Timothy. The more a leader “leads by example”, the clearer the vision is. The question I have is about the battle between delegating and “questioning daily progress”. While I do believe that a good leader has to be on top of things, the need to check in “daily” seems excessive. There should be a trust that if goals are set clearly, that the team is capable of seeing them through. Of course there needs to be regular communication and updates, but I would look at a daily accounting as micro-managing.

    Kimberly Kline

    February 28, 2013 at 12:08 pm

  2. […] Change is Not a Destination But a Process […]


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