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March 1, 2019

What Is Change Leadership?

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Companies sometimes need a drastic change in order to fix a long standing problem or merely to adapt with the rest of the world. That shift only occurs when a single vision motivates the employees as a team and becomes strong enough to enact that change. Change leadership is important in renovating overarching aspects of a company by using an empowered vision of the potential of such radical change. To become a change leader, you must understand what it means before taking the first steps.

 

Definition of Change Leadership

Change leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on large-scale changes within an organization. Real change leaders (RCLs) are more concerned about a large, transformative vision for the business and how the employees become empowered enough to contribute to the creation of that vision. One risk of change leadership, however, is it has the potential to get out of control and not account for the smaller details in that line of work. In addition, a company may not act upon every proposed change to the established structure.

 

Distinction From Change Management

Change management is often associated with change leadership. Many consider the two synonyms. However, these two concepts approach the upcoming change at a company with different methods. Change management refers to “a basic set of tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control.” Change management essentially introduces a company shift to a work environment that is usually resistant to the concept of change. Management keeps the distractions and effects of change under control at a small, gradual pace, rather than the disruptive approach change leadership takes.

 

The Role of People Management in Change Leadership

For RCLs to continue their ambitious vision for their business, first they need to embrace people management. People management focuses on having each employee reach their full potential by managing them. People managers lead their employees into training and developing their skills, meeting new goals, defending them by understanding employee law, and encouraging them to improve. Some of the practices in people management include:

  • Training and development. Managers ensure that employees receive enough orientation to start their job and that they receive evaluation and feedback to encourage them to grow and take on more responsibility.
  • Decision making. A manager must make the final decision when it comes to employee recognition or discipline with fair, objective decisions.
  • Managers must work as mediators for employee grievances, help the employees feel confident about their job, and carry out evaluations.
  • Overseeing teamwork. Despite delegating teamwork to employees, managers must make sure the team is performing its duties within budget and deadlines.
  • Role modeling. A manager sets a good example for the other employees by behaving like a professional and treating other employees with respect and dignity.
  • Managers oversee the progress of employees, and if necessary, set up programs and identify opportunities for improvement to ensure employee growth within the company.

By embracing something as structured as people management, RCLs can motivate employees to align to the greater vision for the organization.

 

Actions of RCLs

Advocates for change leadership are very different from regular management roles. While managers strive to keep everything controlled and running, RCLs are all about shaking the business up. RCLs have skills that make them stand out from other types of leadership.

  • Linchpin linkages. Forging connections in the marketplace, RCLs engage with the customers and find out what the competition is doing. Then, the leaders use the information to energize their work teams into improving their performance.
  • 360-degree impact. Often in middle management positions, RCLs inspire their vision first among the employees they are directly responsible for. Later, the leaders also try to influence the executives and people above them to bring changes, with varying degrees of success.
  • An expandable toolkit. RCLs have specific problem-solving skills or tools. However, they are always looking for new approaches and techniques, and do not get complacent in the techniques they already have. These leaders adapt to new situations.
  • Switch-hitting leadership capacity. In change leadership, there is no single type of leadership approach. RCLs have different approaches to leading depending on each of the employees. In the case their methods cannot adapt to the situation, RCLs delegate others to help lead the current vision for the team to completion.

 

Characteristics of RCLs

While individual change leaders may have their own unique approaches at leadership and driving the company to meet a unified vision, they all share a few characteristics:

  • Excited and committed to a vision that will improve the future of the organization
  • Courage to face and combat norms, power bases, and failures to fulfill their goal
  • Motivated and make sure to spread that motivation to others
  • Take the initiative in challenging the status quo and thinking outside the box to solve problems
  • Care for the way the company treats other employees, particularly the ones on their team and under their watch.
  • Sense of humor, even in the worst of times, to motivate everyone around them to keep focused on the larger vision for the company

 

Shortage of Change Leaders

Change leadership rarely comes from the top because the people involved have the least incentive to drive a large, overwhelming change that extends all the way to the smallest employees. Most RCLs originate from middle management positions. However, there is a shortage of RCLs since most management positions are traditional and more akin to change managers. Experts argue that the shortage can end by both bringing in outside talent specialized in real change and instructing managers on change leadership methods.

 

Boost Your Change Leadership Skills

Becoming a strong, efficient change leader requires patience and practice. Inspiring employees to follow your vision is a skill that develops over time. If you want to learn more about how to influence others, then consider investing in some lessons. SNI’s influence training course is based on Aristotle’s philosophy on the three elements of influence (ethos, pathos, and logos) to build credibility, engage emotion, demonstrate logic, and engage action. Call us today to join our program and maximize your leadership success.

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