“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have — and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” –James Belasco and Ralph Stayer, Flight of the Buffalo (1994)
We live in a world filled with challenges. Changes are coming even faster and with greater impact than ever before. However, history provides us with valuable information on how to navigate better to face these changes.
Change agents have to be leaders. Changes are driven by leaders who have a platform to support for a new direction and the ability to reward those who embrace it. Change agents don’t lead change because it’s the right thing to do or change is necessary. They lead change because they believe their organization needs to get ahead as times change and new competition emerges.
Change agents have something about them that drives teams and get people inspired. Perhaps the biggest fallacy about change agents is that they are lone ranger’s leaders. However, the most effective change agents have the ability to rally up supporters and cultivate people through passion and caring. Change agents are about growth and taking their teams to a place they never been before. They sense the urgency to make a positive change within their culture.
So how do great leaders become change agents for the better?
Change leaders need everyone in their organization. It’s about giving everybody a chance to be part of something meaningful. When everyone is involved, everyone is accountable. A change leader cannot succeed without getting everyone to play. The long term results will be more rewarding and more substantial for the long haul instead of a short term “feel good” victory.
Communication and caring is critical in this stage. Change leaders must turn to everyone in their teams to listen intently and get a pulse for what really needs to be changed based on what you hear in the field. Your approach here would be to collect enough feedback and perspectives to really understand what is going on.
Asks tough questions
Change Leaders have to ask the hard questions that maybe were missed in earlier feedback sessions. It is when people feel an emotional connection to something is when they will truly inspire to move ahead. Asking questions focusing on, “What we can do differently?”. Change leaders find themselves helping people come to their own conclusions based on their experience which creates ownership in what they are doing. Keep asking questions to help people think, don’t tell them what to do.
Strong relationships built on trust
All of the above, means nothing if you do not have meaningful relationships with the people that you lead. People will not want to grow if they do not trust the person that is pushing the change. Change Leaders are extremely approachable and reliable. Change Leaders should not be afraid to approach that individual based on their position or tenure in the company.
Change Leaders understand that these people will go out of their way to connect with you. Does that mean you won’t have tough conversations? These tough conversations also build trust. Trust is built when you know see someone not being afraid to do what is right, even if it is uncomfortable. Often times, trust is built when you choose to do what is right for your organization, as long as it is always done in a respectful and professional way.