Change, whether expected or unforeseen, has driven some businesses out of existence while strengthening others. Kodak, Atari, Blockbuster, Netscape, and Nokia — they were all popular businesses with tremendous success stories, but they stuck with old business techniques. The ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mantra prevents a firm from reinventing itself to satisfy the market’s current and future needs. This has made change management critical for any organization. Understanding how leading change can make or break a business in turbulent times helps you get through unexpected transitions.
What is Leading Change in the Organization?
Leading change falls within a framework or process called ‘change management’. It focuses on managing people as they go through change, making sure they have the proper tools, information, and support to enable them to succeed. Employees at all levels are impacted by change — whether they work for huge companies with organizational coaching or privately owned firms with small teams. Without leaders, this system cannot function; poor or inexperienced leaders won’t be able to identify and support their team’s needs or motivate them to adopt evolving values. The success of change management thus depends on leaders with effective leadership qualities.
Leading Change Examples
Netflix was established in 1997. Initially, the business concept provided clients with monthly subscriptions to get movies delivered to their doorsteps. This meant they were spared late penalties that clients of traditional movie-rental businesses had to pay. The streaming giant established itself as a disruptive company from the start, and this probably contributed to its capacity to change and adapt to the digital age. The company started streaming in 2007, eliminating the need for members to wait for DVDs to arrive via mail. It effectively adopted change management to fulfill the demands of customers who would start watching content online.
The Coca-Cola Company has perhaps faced more issues with change management than any other organization. One instance comes from the 1980s when fierce rivals Pepsi began to actively pursue Coca-Cola. In response, the latter introduced New Coke, a sweeter variation of their well-known beverage. It failed to catch on with consumers, which led the beverage giant to quickly substitute the previous recipe. By doing so, the brand was able to react rapidly to consumer preferences, preserving the attraction of the product. Coca-Cola also established itself as a representative of the U.S. war effort, dating all the way back to World War II, when it began providing free colas to soldiers. Additionally, it increased brand awareness in the nations occupied by allied soldiers: 64 more production facilities were added by Coca-Cola throughout this phase, thus solidifying its global footprint.
Principles of Leading Change Management
There are several change management models available, and you can select the one that works best for you. John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and the founder of the management consulting company Kotter International, is one of the best-known thought leaders in this field.
The four major principles that make up Kotter’s change management methodology are as follows:
- Select few + diverse many
- Have to + want to
- Head + heart
- Management + leadership
Select Few + Diverse Many
Who in your company is responsible for change? Do the same managers or leaders frequently make decisions and give orders? These are referred to as the ‘select few’, and there is a huge risk that this strategy comes with. Change has an impact on everyone inside a company. The ‘diverse many’— the larger group of individuals that make up your company — are the ones who must modify their procedures and actions to account for the change. You might skip the phase of understanding what everyone else needs in order to successfully execute change when the instructions originate only from a small group of people. At each stage of the change process — from identifying difficulties and planning improvements, through execution and reflection — incorporate people from all departments inside your business.
Have to + Want to
The first step in making the change from something people feel they must do to something they want to do is to engage the diverse many. Complacency is a sign of a workforce where everyone feels the pressure to execute projects or make adjustments. What makes a huge difference is having people who desire to see a change in the world. They will comprehend the rationale behind modified procedures and new projects if your employees are involved in recognizing difficulties and suggesting changes. They’ll be committed to progress. Furthermore, they’ll be eager to make the movements required to bring about—and maintain—a change that advances your company.
Head + Heart
To drive change, you must make decisions based on what both tell you. The head uses evidence, reason, and reasoning; the heart appeals to people’s emotions and desires.
It makes sense to support organizational choices with hard facts, but change implementation calls for more. Additionally, it needs workers who are motivated by how the change will affect their day-to-day tasks and the organization’s capacity to carry out its objective. This necessitates going a bit farther when explaining the change to your staff. You can’t only outline the details of the change you’re planning to make and how you’ll put it into practice. You must also describe the motivation behind it, how it will benefit the business, your clients, or customers, and your staff, and the goal they are working toward every day.
Management + Leadership
An organization requires both management and leadership to navigate change. In other words, you require both emotional and technical abilities to convey a vision, motivate action, and sympathize with problems. Technical skills are needed to manage projects, establish plans, and supervise deliveries.
Steps to Successfully Lead Change
There are eight steps to leading change in an organization:
- Establish a feeling of urgency
- Create a governing alliance
- Create strategic initiatives
- Recruit volunteers
- Eliminate obstacles by enabling action
- Make short-term gains
- Continue to accelerate
- Institute transformation
6 Examples of Leading Change Management
- Establishing that the change is essential
- Collaborate with a dependable set of people
- Be deliberate in your planning
- Identify and eliminate your limitations
- Consider your company’s culture
- Celebrate your short-term successes
Common Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Lead Change
The five most typical mistakes leaders make when they fail to lead changes are listed below:
- Don’t assume what inspires you would also stimulate everyone else
- Don’t make promises that you can’t keep
- Give enough time to team members to comprehend the change
- Don’t only surround yourself with like-minded people
- Don’t get caught up on the current trends and buzz
Learning, the Emeritus Way
Change is inevitable. As a company progresses, it needs to adapt to change to sustain itself. If you’re looking for leadership qualities, Emeritus offers a goldmine of online leadership courses you can explore and lead from the front!
By Siddhesh Shinde
Write to us at content@Emeritus.org