How to Lead Through Change - Joel Patterson - Photo by Josh Calabrese

How to Lead During Change

In today’s world, all businesses have one thing in common﹘ they must be ready to change in order to stay relevant and competitive. Innovations in technology are emerging at a rate we’ve never seen before, and if businesses remain stagnant for too long, they’ll quickly be left in the dust. 

For leaders, this means you must be able to effectively lead through change and periods of growth and uncertainty. Since change is near-constant at this point, this skill is vital to your company’s long-term success. So, what does it take to lead through change?

An Ongoing Process

One of the most common mistakes among leaders heading up change initiatives is treating a transition as an isolated event that can be “handled.” This suggests that change happens within a short period of time and won’t need to be addressed outside of that set timespan. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. In a future-oriented business, striving for improvement and innovation is an ongoing process and must be treated as such. Leading through periods of change should be considered your new normal. The only way for your business to continue succeeding is by keeping constant progress as a top priority.

Communicating the “Why”

Employees can be reluctant to try new ways of doing things, especially when they feel they’ve become experts in the old methods. Introducing change without communicating your goals or reasons is a recipe for resistance. Be as transparent and inclusive as possible with everyone who might be affected by organizational change. It’s imperative that you have a company-wide commitment to your change initiative. 

This type of commitment will be far more effective than solely depending on a few key players, or “change agents,” to fuel your efforts. For transitions to run smoothly all employees must fully understand the end goal and feel supported throughout the process. A lack of understanding results in employees feeling like they’re being forced to change for no good reason. A comprehensive understanding of the purpose behind new methods is more likely to encourage a desire to learn and adapt. 

Be the Change You Wish to See

Periods of transition can be trying for everyone, including leaders! If you find yourself feeling like your staff isn’t adjusting well, step back from the situation and take a moment to reflect. How are you feeling about the changes your company is going through? Does how you are reacting to this process give you insight into how your team might be feeling? Approaching change with the right attitude is just as important as having an expert plan or cutting-edge technology.

You can hardly expect your employees to breeze through change when your attitude towards it isn’t as positive or motivated as it could be. If you can bring a productive, confident, can-do attitude to your leadership, then your staff are more likely to reflect that attitude back. You must be the example for those you are leading through this (and every) transition that comes your way.