Effective leadership is the cornerstone of any successful organization but is no more vital than during times of organizational transformation. When an organization is in the midst of change, the workforce is looking to their leadership for guidance, as the “word ‘leader’ correctly implies that there is a ‘follower.’ In the business world, leaders influence or motivate others in the group to pursue business objectives, which often includes accepting change” (Modus).
Prior to undergoing major organizational transformation, the executive leadership team should be completely aware and aligned with what these changes will entail. It’s of critical importance that your executive team is equipped with the language to describe the change, encourage people to accept the change, and lead through this change. Leaders should be expected to disseminate information to their teams and to create a compelling vision that will inspire and motivate employees. Without this alignment on vision and communication, your leadership will look fractured, and you will quickly risk disengaging your workforce. As Modus shares, “Poor communication and lack of confidence in a silent management team can spawn rumors of worst-case scenarios. In times of transition, therefore, the role of motivating leadership becomes critical for providing credible and trusted communication to positively influence an organization’s reaction to change.”
Leaders should also be expected to model the behavior they want to see. If your leaders were to say one thing but do another, it would completely demotivate others from getting on board. For example, if your organizational transformation requires the adoption of a new process, make sure your leaders are leading the way in adopting these systems. Were your leaders to promote the new processes publicly, but privately still adhere to outdated ways of doing things, they will disenfranchise those being required to do so. Your leaders need to pave the path forward, and that means that they must embody the behaviors and adhere to the conditions required by the change.
In addition to your leaders representing the change effectively, building support for the change effort will require clear and consistent communication. This means there should be a communication plan that determines who will be notified of the change and when. It should ensure transparency throughout all communications. Don’t leave people guessing about how the change will affect them, but instead, share what is expected to happen and when. Having a point person on your leadership team to manage internal communications and guide this effort will be hugely important, especially during times of major organizational transformation.
It’s equally important to own it if the transformation you envisioned falls short of expectations. Demonstrate that it’s ok to take risks and to iterate as needed in the name of innovation. Present your organization as a company that embraces transformation, not as an organization that fears it. This will encourage others to view change as a positive, rather than as something to be feared because the organization’s leadership accepts failure as a possible outcome and charges ahead anyway.
Without effective leadership, the possibility of transforming your organization will go unrealized. Your leaders are the key to unlocking the benefits of change, and to ensuring your workforce embraces and adopts it. Empower your leaders with the knowledge, clear expectations, and a communication plan, and prepare to transform!