Over past months, I have been undertaking further research on change leadership - and in particular, trying to understand the problems that exist for many organisations when it comes to successful and lasting change. In doing so, I have had some indepth conversations with a number of executives in a range of industries all undergoing reform or change.
What has become obvious through these conversations is that change and reform can be frustrating and in some cases overwhelming. With competing priorities that include operational continuance, budget constraints, policy/legislative requirements, etc, the task of implementing and embedding change can be difficult, convoluted and expensive. This is especially relevant in industries such as aged care, that are undergoing significant reform.
A recurring, and unexpected theme that I've noticed through my research and work, is that there generally is a lack of understanding of:
What change leadership really is; and
How important it is to the success of lasting change.
Change leadership is an independant, but critical partner to change management. Without it, change has little opportunity of success because what change leadership does is address the human issues of people and their emotions.
In a world where people, in general, don't like change and are also fearful of it - the ability to lead people through change could quite possibly be the most valuable skill a person could have. When you then consider the cost of change failure to an organisation - well, it's not hard to see why change leadership will also be the most sought after skill, and why we are seeing the uptake of the change leadership movement.
The art of change leadership isn't something that is only for executives and senior management. Change leadership has a role throughout the entire organisation, whether it be at a macro or micro level, change leaders provide the vision, the influence to drive change and continuous improvement by engaging and empowering people to contribute.
The benefits are significant:
An organisation with an emotional culture (read people) that have:
If you've studied any of the work of human empowerment legend, Anthony Robbins, you will these are the six core human needs that drive human behaviour. These needs, when met in a career/employment setting, equate to satisfaction, engagement and really, a level of joy and happiness. This in turn means less employee turnover, which equates to a reduction in the significant cost of churn.
From a continuous improvement & change perspective, this means a culture that better facilitates and adopts change.
An organisation that has the culture and skills within it to facilitate and adopt change quickly is one that can shift quickly to position itself for the best success to meet, and potentially be in front of, market changes, industry shakeups, reform and competitive uptakes. Agility is vital to organisational success, profitability and longevity. It is also vital to the brand, reputation and customer loyalty.
Lower change costs (because change initiatives are done quickly)
Lower operational costs (because the business improves and refines through change)
Increased turnover (because the business can better serve customers and/or introduce new offerings)
Potential for increased profit
Happy employees create happy customers. A better experience or service creates happy customers. An organisation with a change leadership mindset is one that can continually improve, do the best for it's people and grow. This is a win/win situation.
Increased Profitability Potential
Everything mentioned above.. it all impacts profit.
Change leadership is what brings people together to contribute to the cause - by influencing people to believe in the cause. Change leaders are critical to change because without leadership, people will not feel empowered or engaged, and instead be apathetic, or worse resistant. Whether it be a change initiative or continuous improvement, the ability to lead change quickly and effectively is critical to an organisation.
So in terms of your own organisation or business, I ask you to consider - do your leaders, managers and people for that matter, have the change leadership skills for the future?