Once you start to be responsible for people you are not just a manager, but a leader too. You need to know what it takes to lead, and as a leader, change is one of the key parts of your role that you must understand and lead your people through. There is no option. Change happens every day, and as we all know increases in speed every year, no matter what industry we are in.
The next 5-10 years are going to see massive changes in technology (robots, huge increases in processing power, moving our data over to cloud, 4G, nano technology, 3D printers etc.), decline in traditional paper-based publishing, increasing use of Social Media by business, new levels of competition, not only with Europe, but with the BRIC countries, new modes of transport (remote control lorries and cars) and massive developments in the health care and pharmaceutical markets. And this will all be against the back drop of a stagnant economy. These changes and more, that we haven’t even thought about yet, will effect our businesses in one way or another.
For leaders it means not only a need to tune into our environment constantly, but also to have a real understanding of how to engage with all our people and lead them in a meaningful journey towards a compelling vision that we must set.
There are many things that leaders need to think about, but I have picked out 10 steps to success, that I believe are essential:
1. Tune into your environment
a. External: What’s affecting your business now and will/might affect your business in the future
b. Internal: What’s your capability and what’s your capacity? Where there are problems, look for the root causes (‘Broken window theory)
2. Regularly review and refine your strategy depending on 1 and 2.
3. Create a culture of constant change through continuous improvement. Know your people individually. Encourage them to be the best they can be. Embrace and reward new ideas.
4. You can’t change people, they have to change themselves:
a. Engage your people in doing the analysis and as well as coming up with solutions.
b. Don’t engage people in your conclusions - give them the rationale for the change and allow them to draw their own conclusions (in line with yours).
5. Create the rationale for change:
a. ‘Burning Platform’ - why do we need to leave where we are! You must create a good reason.
b. Powerful vision - what will it be like when we have changed? There is a much better place where we need to be and you have to figure it out and passionately engage people with that vision.
6. Influence your people through passion, emotion and truth, rather than just analysis. Tell stories, use real examples, use analogies and metaphors, and be visual. Get people excited about the change.
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Be honest about both success and failure. You cannot ‘not’ communicate. If you leave a vacuum, people will fill it with their own version of reality.
8. Change takes time and should not be celebrated too soon. To embed a new behaviour you must repeat it at least 20 times or it will not become an established pattern for you and you will revert to previous behaviour.
9. Role Model the changes you want to see in others.You have to be a role model for the new changes you need to see and the leadership team must be aligned with you.
10. Align your systems and processes to support and help to embed the changes or they may work against you.