Today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous business world demands that effective business leaders have strong and fine-tuned change leadership skills as the foundation to their leadership approach. Developing and cascading these leadership skills requires today’s leaders to embrace change, teach change, support change, and take significant risks.
If you aren’t ready to lead, take real risks, and support real change then don’t even bother; you will only make it all worse.
I was recently conducting a leadership development session utilizing a series of our new computer-based business micro-simulations called Leading Strategic Business Change and the topic of risk and change leadership became the most talked about scenarios. One of the participants used a quote from Mark Zuckerberg that was very appropriate and summarizes the challenge of the day; “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
In our workshop, we went through a portfolio of different change leadership scenarios in the business simulation and learners practiced their new skills by simulating different behaviors and conversations within the complete change cycle. It was clear from the group of learners – which supports a lot of the most current research - that the most successful leaders in the world lead the execution of strategy and are willing to navigate through the risks of change simultaneously.
At the conclusion of the simulation workshop, I summarized all of the key learning points to develop the next set of work and skill development. I was so excited by the results I am happy to share four of the top findings with readers of Advantexe’s blog.
Here are the first four elements of a roadmap for successfully Leading Change:
Develop a Strategic Business Change Plan
Every business needs a strategy and every business needs to change to survive. If your value proposition isn’t evolving and changing to the needs of your selected customers, you will be out of business. Period. Your role as a leader is to develop a detailed Strategic Business Change Plan and identify all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your business and then lead your team to adapt to the needed changes.
Choose the Key Metrics of Success
Change will never end, but nonetheless, you and your people need a scoreboard and metrics of success. One of the biggest reasons change efforts fail is that leaders don’t choose the right metrics of success that support your business strategy and your strategic change efforts. For example, if you are trying to become more innovative, then you need to develop and launch new successful products/services that provide innovative solutions to the needs of your customers.
Communicate Clearly and Lead to Realistic Expectations
Change leadership is brutally hard. There are no easy answers and no easy steps. The most effective leaders in the world understand that effective communication and leading to realistic expectations is the only recipe for success. As part of your communications plan, understand the needs and styles of different stakeholders and adapt your delivery to their style as communicating change is not a one style fits all endeavor.
Identify, Nurture, and Grow the Change Ambassadors
In the early stages of strategic business change – after you’ve started the communication process – the next most critical step is to identify, nurture, and grow the change agents. The change agents are easily identifiable because they are willing to take risks and willing to fail fast and move forward quickly in the process. Your job is to identify who they are and do everything possible to make them and delegate to them (they will gladly accept the role) the job of being a change ambassador within your company.