All small businesses are affected by change. It could be something as simple as implementing a new payroll system or as monumental as switching to a new operating system or moving the office to a new location. Even if the change is warranted and the results are promising, change is rarely easy and a large percentage of change efforts fail. So how can leaders set themselves and their teams up for success when it comes to implementing change? It truly all begins with effective change leadership.
Personality types of effective change leaders
When you look at the Clifton StrengthsFinder personality types, effective change leaders can emerge from
any of the four strength domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building or Strategic Thinking and any combination thereof. When you know your StrengthsFinder strengths and where they fall in these four areas, you can dig into ways to improve your effectiveness in implementing change. Some common personality types of effective change leaders include:
- Achiever: works hard with exceptional motivation and determination
- Activator: is motivated to “do” and inspires others by their actions
- Includer: has a high capacity to build relational connections
- Woo: can easily inspire and motivate and win others over; social intelligence
- Futuristic: plans for the future by solving today’s problems
- Strategic: can look at the details and sort out the best route forward
Gallup’s book, Strengths-Based Leadership, covers the four attributes that people look for in their leaders as well as how leaders can develop their natural talents to deepen their leadership skills.
Working with their natural wiring, leaders can successfully enact change in many ways. Here are some important components of effective change leadership:
Effective change leadership clearly communicates with employees every step of the way.
When a leader comes in like a bulldozer and starts implementing change without notice, they take employees off-guard and can trigger a host of negative reactions. However, when a leader communicates clearly from day one and involves employees in pre-change discussion, even in situations where employees are hesitant, they feel respected and often embrace the change as the process moves forward. When proposing a change, here are some key questions you as a leader can address:
The why: Why is this change necessary? Addressing this can be particularly challenging in an environment where employees perceive operations to be humming along just fine as is. When presenting your “why,” it may be necessary to debunk some myths and shed light on ways company operations could stand to improve.
The where: Where will the proposed change take your employees and the company as a whole? Cast a vision for a bright future and all the benefits that await everyone on the other side of this change.
The how: How are you going to move your company from Point A to Point B? Delineate a roadmap with manageable steps that helps your company move into this new, beneficial place.
Effective change leadership collaborates with employees
If you want to be an effective change leader, it’s necessary to involve employees and key stakeholders early on in the decision-making process. Creating a sense of unity around the proposed change will help strengthen employees’ dedication to implementing it. Unify your team for a successful collaborative experience.
Effective change leadership solicits feedback
Instead of approaching the situation as if you have all the answers, ask questions of and solicit formal and informal feedback from your employees. This will allow you to make effective adjustments and course corrections before and during the implementation phase. It can help open your mind to perspectives and possibilities that only people with their boots on the ground can contribute, unify employees and management and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
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