We live and work in a world that is clearly changing each and every day; in fact, sometimes by the minute. These changes require an action and a reaction from each and every one of us. Do we accept the change as it is, resist the change altogether, or perhaps even attempt to modify the impact of the change to make it suit our needs. The reality is that any one of these options could be a valid option it just depends on the type of change we are talking about. In the world of business, the concept of change is certainly not new and is in fact one of the greatest challenges business leaders need to meet each and every day.
Regardless of the business you are in, or even what position you hold within that business, you will be challenged with change. How you react to that change will impact you personally as well as challenge your present and perhaps future career status. There are two main points regarding change that we would like to make:
- First, you cannot predict when change will occur!
- Second, you can predict that change will eventually occur!
For business leaders and for those who expect to become business leaders in the future, how you react to change will clearly identify if you have strong leadership qualities or not.
So, if we clearly understand that we will continually be challenged by change, it’s important for us to understand what leadership characteristics are needed for what we call “Change Success Leadership”. To put this into simple terms we have created “The three “C’s of Successful Change Management”.
- 1) Competency: If as a leader you cannot deliver the message, no one will follow the plan.
The first step the business leader has to take is to assess what the change will mean to him or her professionally and perhaps even more importantly, personally. How does it impact the leader’s life in the business world he or she works in or that person’s personal world? Also, is this a change that the leader can live with and is willing to support as the leader of his or her team?
Then the business leader has another decision to make, does he or she support the change or not. If not it could mean an imminent change in career or perhaps a change in position within the company. Once that hurdle has been overcome and assuming the leader accepts the challenge of the change, he or she now has a major role in “selling” the change to that leader’s team. Just think of the impact a change could have if it would involve a company move to another state, or another country for that matter.
A strong leader will obviously take on many rolls, (1) that of a counsellor to council his team about the move it’s challenges, and hopefully its benefits. The leader will have to become a (2) confidant to be there to listen to every team member’s individual concerns about the change and how it could impact each and every one of the team members. A true leader will need to take on the role of a (3) father or a mother figure to each of his or her team. As a parent we want the best for our children and we make a promise to make sure they are always safe and free from danger. And finally, the caring leader takes on the role of a (4) therapist to listen and not judge what any team member may decide to do once they are impacted by the specific change.
- 2) Composure: Change comes in many forms, what we do during these times of change will define us.
Needless to say, change is not always a pleasant experience. How we handle ourselves during these change moments will truly define us as a leader or perhaps a non-leader. One of the ways we show our leadership qualities is to maintain composure first with management who may have dictated a specific change and then secondly with our team who we may now have to present some very unpopular policy or people changes. Many of us have experienced times when staff has to be reduced due to any number of economic circumstances. We need to be focused and maintain total composure as a department, division, or even a corporate leader in how we present the news and to make sure we follow the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule involves treating everyone, and we mean everyone, just the way we would expect to be treated.
A business owner I know had to make staff cuts several times in fact, within short periods of time to ensure the survival of his business. As difficult as that task was, the business leader received thank you’ s from several of the staff members for giving them the opportunity to work with him in his business. This was a direct result of this business leader throughout the years to constantly maintain his composure, in good times as well as in bad. He never whined or complained when a person made a mistake, or came in late regularly. He used those experiences as teaching moments for his employees who truly understood they were part of a winning team and as part of a winning team they would be held to a higher standard for everyone’s benefit. The employees had great respect for the business owner, but more importantly, the business owner had a great deal of respect for his employees, or as he referred to them, “his family”.
- 3) Courage: Always do the ethical thing. You may need to make a decision that is difficult to accept, but may be the right decision for your organization.
It obviously takes courage to be a strong and capable leader in business. You must be guided by uncompromising ethical standards that business leaders need to define for themselves, and live by throughout their business career. Each morning when we brush our teeth we need to look ourselves in the mirror. What type of person do we see in that mirror? Is it someone you can be proud of; is it someone who is always looking out to help others grow, especially those we work closely with? Yes, we’re certain that most people are kind, caring individuals, most of the time but the real challenge will come when as a leader you are faced with a very difficult decision to make.
Perhaps your business life depends on making a very difficult decision to move out of the way to let someone else take over. A person who you agree is clearly more qualified than you are to take on a specific position of leadership within your organization; are you willing to step aside because it’s the right thing to do? It takes great courage to make that decision, that’s for sure and if you can do that, you truly possess ideal leadership skills.
It’s clear that this final “C” of leadership characteristics is perhaps the toughest one. However, it is one that truly defines an outstanding leader. What kind of leader are you? What kind of leader would you like to become, the choice is yours!
If you have leadership stories you’d like to share with us, we would love to hear them.