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How to help leaders thrive through organisational change

Right, let’s first acknowledge that managing organisational change isn’t easy. But, as the workplace continues to evolve, it is very necessary. And having resilient, positive leaders who actively thrive through such a process can make it much smoother. But how can you equip your leaders with the right skills to deliver change effectively?

Organisations must manage change effectively for it to work

The workplace has been undergoing some pretty major changes. The impact of digital technology, as well as shifting work expectations and perspectives of both employers and employees have played their part in driving the changes we’ve seen to organisational structures, culture and approaches to working.

But while the need for evolution is clear, it can be difficult to achieve. As William Bridge’s model of change explains, we humans are hardwired to resist change. By removing once reliable structures this can cause employees to revolt and actively oppose any organisational transformation. And, we must also throw into the mix the impact of a VUCA world around us (with heightened volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). This, quite naturally, makes a change process even more challenging to successfully manage.

But fear not! While challenging, effective change can be achieved through proactive management of your leaders, giving them the skills to deliver the desired organisational change and, what’s more, to thrive in doing so.

Four steps to create thriving leaders

Contrary to what some say, great leaders invariably aren’t born. They need to be invested in and developed, and to have in place a supportive foundation in order to be successful. Here are four areas we suggest focusing on to boost your leaders’ ability to manage change:

    1. Have clear goals and objectives
    Feelings of uncertainty for leaders will be much reduced when there is clear purpose and understanding to the reason behind organisational change. So be sure to create logical and measurable objectives, giving people a clear direction in the process and helping them feel in control.

    2. Set milestones to celebrate
    Setting milestones for your leaders to acknowledge as personal or team successes will foster positivity to changes in an often difficult process. This gives your leaders a psychological boost, which is important when carrying change through the whole organisation.

    3. Listen to feedback from your leaders
    It’s so important you maintain open lines of communication with your leaders throughout any period of change. Giving them the opportunity to share any of their concerns, feelings or observations will only serve to empower and motivate them to carry through the changes.

    4. Make sure you offer effective training
    Delivering change throughout an organisation requires a specific skill set, including management ability, motivation and resilience; so it’s imperative you identify where your leaders need most help (through a diagnostic tool such as 360 feedback) and invest in the right training for them.

Thriving leaders in action: Shell case study

Shell is a great example of how creating thriving leaders can benefit your organisation. In the early noughties Shell faced the need for a massive business restructuring. To achieve this, they created an extended global leadership team. These leaders were focused, clear in the purpose and benefits of the restructure and, as such, were able to proactively support the changes needed at a team-level.

Benefitting from thriving leaders

‘Thriving leaders’ are typified by being proactive, resilient and positive. Not only will they ensure your desired organisational changes are achieved but they can also help to foster a workplace culture that more closely resonates with, and is welcomed by, your employees.

And there are other benefits too, including the role such leaders play in nurturing a team of employees that feels valued, motivated and committed to the cause. In fact, perhaps you should see creating ‘thriving leaders’ as an investment in your organisation’s future. After all, there’s no doubt that these leaders will be pivotal in helping you better navigate future business challenges while also driving growth, innovation and productivity inside your organisation.

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