The Power To Lead Organizational Change

We all have the power within us to create real and lasting change. To transform the place we work into something finer and more efficient, no matter how good a position it started from. Change gives us the potential to be not just good but great, to continually aspire to more.

Somebody has to lead that change, and, if you’re willing to embrace the right attitude and values, it can be you.

Create Credibility

The first step in driving change is to build credibility, both for yourself and for the changes you want to see.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter has listed five powers that are central to this:

  • Showing up: by getting out into the field you earn the right in the eyes of others to talk about changes to their workplace.
  • Speaking up: be the one who shapes the debate, not just another voice in the crowd – stand up for the change you want to see.
  • Teaming up: very little can be achieved on your own, so get together with others to push the changes you all want.
  • Looking up: relate your work to a higher set of values, something for people to aspire to.
  • Not giving up: show that you will follow through on your promises by sticking at things even when they’re tough.

In addition to this, make sure that you’re building the right kind of energy around your changes. Talk in terms of an opportunity for something good, rather than things that are wrong or need fixing. This creates a more positive, less defensive atmosphere.

Focus On Others

You may be the one driving the change forward, but you’ll get more out of it if you take a difficult step and build the positive attention around others. Make sure to celebrate successes, but focus that celebration on the achievements of the teams you’re working with or the benefits this will bring for them, not on yourself.

This has several positive effects. It makes people feel more ownership over the changes you are leading, and so more commitment to them. The positive attention helps to balance any negative feelings they may have about outside interference and the challenges of change. And it removes any risk that you will be seen as self-aggrandizing or trying to bring change for your own benefit, either of which can damage your credibility.

Break Down the Walls

Organizations instinctively tend to separate into isolated teams working at their own separate tasks. But this is a damaging way to work, reducing flexibility and obstructing your ability to improve efficiency down the whole value stream. To make the most out of change, start by breaking down those barriers. Encourage collaboration between teams, challenge the existing boundaries between them, look to understand and correctly deploy the skills needed for each task regardless of which department they come from.

Don’t Wait

If you wait for the best time then change may never come. There are always opportunities for improvement, and there are always problems in the way. So take the bull by the horns, stand up for change and see where it can take you.

The power is yours to grasp.

About the Author: Mark Lukens is a Founding Partner of Method3, a global management consulting firm. Most of Mark’s writing involves theoretical considerations and practical application, academics, change leadership, and other topics at the intersection of business, society, and humanity.

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