Keeping up with the changing times is critical to the success of any business.
However, change can only be driven by company leaders who are willing to change themselves, says Barbara Trautlein, author of "Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks" (Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013).
"Leadership is the key to successful major organizational change, Trautlein said. “It is possible to lead successful and sustainable change — if it's led effectively."
Too often, Trautlein said, today's employees thirst for guidance, but are distrustful and disenfranchised, rather than engaged, empowered or equipped to do what is needed to help their organizations transform to survive and thrive.
She offers business leaders several tips for how to change their own ways in order to become a better leader and improve the success of their organizations:
- Change your story: Resistance in organizations is like the immune system in the body; it protects against harmful invaders from the outside. Just as pain in the body is a symptom something is wrong, resistance is a sign managers should heed. The goal is not to eradicate resistance, but to allow it to surface, so it can be explored and honored. To be an effective leader , learn to see resistance as an ally, not an enemy.
- Change your stance: Instead of always feeling like you are battling other people and struggling to get things done, re-envision yourself and the other people working together to solve the problem. Move from being, feeling and acting against others to working with — and even for — them.
- Change your seat: What you see depends on where you sit. Change looks very different when viewed from each level of the organizational hierarchy. Those at the top are typically isolated. Sit in others' seats and appreciate their pressures. Top leaders should adapt their approach and messages to the different needs and concerns of each audience.
- Change your style: Instead of abiding by the rule of treating others how you would like to be treated, business executives who want to lead change effectively need to follow the rule of treating others how they — not you — want to be treated. Tell stories they can relate to, and share statistics that are relevant to them.
- Change your strategy: Oftentimes, what looks like resistance to change is really employees who don't understand the change, don't want it or are unable to do it. Effective leaders need to engage employees' brains by explaining the "why" and "what" of the change in order to help them better understand the vision, mission and goals. Paint a clear picture of the target and the end game.
Trautlein said the good news is that none of these prescriptions requires leaders to change who they are.
"They are all about shifts in mind-sets and behaviors," she said. "It's about the flexibility to adapt our leadership approach to get us all where we need to go."
Trautlein's book, "Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks," is scheduled to be released on May 14.