“Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a Leader to Chart the Course.” ~ John C. Maxwell~
If you are a business owner on the east coast, especially in the tri-state area chances are, you’re experiencing change as a result of Hurricane Sandy. And while you may not have had control over the weather and the devastation it caused, you do have the power as a leader to navigate this sudden change successfully. There are so many organizations that claim to have the best leaders at the helm whether they lead at the C-suite level or department level. The true test of a leader however, is being able to lead during times of change. Change is not an event it is a process to be managed with great care.
I once worked for a defense contracting company back in the eighties and early nineties that consistently went through change and while it was unnerving wondering who would be laid off each Thursday, I always knew it wasn’t going to be my job on the chopping block. Why? Because the director I reported to was an excellent strategist and communicator, and really cared about the employees in his department. So, what were some of the things he did to navigate through change?
It’s simple, he was able to strategize as he received information about the company and how the changes would affect his area of responsibility, create a vision for his department based on the strategy, communicate that vision and mission and include his employees in the process; providing a sense of ownership. This man was willing to build relationships with his employees which made it easier to identify their strengths and limitations in a non-threatening manner. He also had the ability to place his employees in situations that maximized their strengths and helped them to manage their limitations.
As an employee, I was exposed to leadership that we don’t often find today. So many leaders are more for “self” rather than “others”. During times of change leaders are more inclined to get the most from their employees when they are included in the “bigger picture”, not just as an employee, but as an individual contributor to the cause. Communication is the key to fostering relationships with your employees as long as the communication is two-way. Give your employees a forum to showcase their talents and let them give you feedback in addition to the feedback you give them. Set it as an expectation to foster the relationship.
Let your strategy be your guide. As soon as you know change is coming, create a plan for success using high-level goals followed by detailed goals. Collaborate with your staff to help them set measurable goals to help you attain the organizational and/or departmental goals you’ve created, making sure they are in alignment. This plan should include the development of your people!
In an economy that has been unstable for many years now, it’s necessary to develop your people often; think of it as an investment in developing and sustaining your organization’s future. In other words, grow your employees to create a sustainable culture. During times of uncertainty and constant change, employees can become frustrated if you as the leader fail to develop them to transition through the change. If you are not developing your employees consistently they will either, become complacent and not give their best, or leave. Often, businesses lose their best employees because they don’t invest in them. Use employee development during times of change to help your organization thrive. Most importantly, make time to develop you…the leader!
While there are opportunities for everyone to grow, as a leader, it’s important for you to take advantage of developmental opportunities too, leading by example. Attend a conference or seminar to help keep you in the know. Understanding what companies in your industry are doing can only help you keep a competitive advantage. If you don’t have time to attend a conference or seminar, then, invest in an executive coach.
As leader, you usually know what things should be done and how they should be done but you may not always do what you know should be done or, do them the way you know they should be done. An executive coach can give you the needed understanding of why, and help you overcome the beliefs, thoughts and feelings that power and feed resistance to change. As a leader, you may have concerns or thoughts that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with your boss. Yet, it is well established that executives will speak freely with a professional coach which, opens the ability for concerns to be addressed and resolved. Engaging a coach should have the intent and effect of bringing your “A-game” to a higher level and will cause you to “show up” with that “A-game” more consistently.
During times of change, you’ll know your company has the competitive edge because you will show your best, your people will show their best because you demonstrated “people value.” Your leadership recipe for navigating change…
• Relationship Building
• Effective two-way Communication
• Employee and Self Development
To attend our upcoming “Managing Organizational Change” seminar, go to our Contact page to register.