The Critical Role of Leadership During Organizational Change: How leaders should manage change.
In the 21st century, change has become the rule of the business industry. Due to the fast changing business environment in this century, most organizations are under immense pressure over how to respond to these rapid changes. From economic to technological and demographic, several kind of changes in the global environment have required businesses to shift their strategic course, to adapt and to make cultural changes in order to respond to these changing factors. Technological changes have occurred at a very fast rate and for most businesses IT has become integral to competitiveness and productivity.
However, just adopting new technologies to improve productivity is not sufficient. Several times businesses have had to alter their marketing and HR strategies to suitably respond to the fast changing business environment. Many organizations underwent cultural changes that made them more ready for the competition in the industry. In this way, change has become most important and competition is a factor that has necessitated change more than ever. However, the way leaders see and manage change determines the outcome and whether the change is going to last.
Commitment from leaders:
Not all changes are successful. Several times due to one or another reason such change initiatives have failed. The industry is replete with examples where the entire initiative failed for simple reasons. The responsibility of the success of a change initiative lies on the shoulders of the leaders. The role of the leaders becomes important for several reasons. The level of commitment that they exhibit to any change decides the level of success to follow. A high level of commitment to the change process from the leadership ensures the success of the process. Leaders do not have to just watch when the change process is on. They are the leaders, the advocates, the sponsors, the guides, the role models and the motivators in the process of change. All these roles demand deep commitment and intense focus.
Gain Buy In:
Committed leaders can gain commitment from their followers but first they need to demonstrate their commitment. If you want to demand commitment from your followers your first step will be to engage them and get them interested. The leader has to be the champion of change and demonstrate to his followers that the impending change is for the benefit of all. Rather than imposing change, good leaders try to gain acceptance by inviting participation. They do not just go out and force everyone to be a part of the process because they have the authority to do so. They gain buy in by using the right channels and the correct methods. How well the leadership is able to communicate the cause behind the change to the followers determines how much persuasion to will have to try at the later stages. Leaders are the role models for their followers, so followers will be willing to accept the change only if they see the leaders doing so. If the leaders are confident about the change and its outcome, they would need to try little to help their followers understand and adapt.
Communication for trust and motivation:
The most important tool before any leader is communication during organizational change. Leaders must use it effectively to gain buy in and encourage participation. The leaders who are passionate about change, communicate it to their followers. They use their words to motivate the entire staff and gain their support. The leaders are the primary decision makers and when planning for change they should look for how well the resources are organized to achieve the desired end. They should check that which processes and individuals are going to be affected most severely by the change process. To ensure smooth progress they must ensure that all the required resources are in place. If anybody requires training to be a part of the change process, the leaders should ensure such training and education. The environment before the change is quite unstable. Fear is bound to remain and rumours are bound to float. Lack of clarity about the process can further spoil the situation. In such a case, it is the job of the leadership to convince everyone and eliminate the sources of fear that can reduce the pace of change. Leaders can achieve this through effective communication.
Persuade, engage and drive change:
Before change implementation, change interpretation or how the staff interprets the change is the responsibility of the leaders. They should act accountably and with transparency to inspire trust among their followers. The focus must remain on engaging the staff and for it communication is essential to strike a deep connection and inspire motivation. No change has been successful without motivation. So, motivating the staff is important to persuade them to be a part of the change and commit their energy and talent to it. The staff must also be provided with clear guidelines over how to act in which situation and whom to contact immediately in a situation of crisis. However, gaining the participation and support from everyone is not an easy challenge. The leader must create a compelling vision for the future to drive organizational change. Deep and large scale changes cannot be made possible unless there is a compelling vision to guide and drive them. By creating a compelling vision, the leaders ensure that everyone feels like a part of the change and is willing to support it with energy and enthusiasm. If the leader’s vision ash the right appeal, it would not be difficult for the followers to accept it and act per his directions.
Stay connected, stay committed:
It is also important that the leaders remain connected with their employees all throughout the process so that if the plan hits a hurdle the staff does not start losing motivation or confidence. Leaders are the primary source of energy and inspiration when a change is underway and their role is more than critical to the success of the entire process. So, at the end it all depends on the level of commitment they exhibit. With higher level of commitment comes higher level of success and such changes last. With low level of commitment from the leadership and low level of accountability comes partial or no success. Environment of change is characterized by high level of uncertainty and many times fear and confusion. In such instances unless the leadership is ready with answers and guidelines making a change successful is not just improbable but impossible.
2. https://www.cscollege.gov.sg/Knowledge/Pages/The-Role-of-Leadership-in-Organisational-Transformation.aspx 3. http://www.enclaria.com/2011/10/06/six-roles-of-a-leader-during-change/ 4. http://www.enclaria.com/2011/10/06/six-roles-of-a-leader-during-change/