With it being a new year and us exploring the complexity of leadership in our current podcast series, I can't help but think about change management. Change management has various aspects, including adapting to change, controlling change and effecting change, all of which requires effective leadership. AND as any effective leader will admit, successful leadership, related to change management or not, begins with oneself.
Oddly enough, the steps to change management tend to vary from expert to expert and they do not take one’s leadership attributes into account. Take John Kotter, for example. Kotter created an eight-step process for leading organizational change, which includes: 1) increase urgency; 2) build the guiding team; 3) get the vision right; 4) communicate for buy-in; 5) empower action; 6) create short term wins; 7) do not let up, and; 8) make change stick. While these steps are useful, there is no mention of the leadership who will lead the change. The same could be said for other examples from ASTD's 10 Steps to Successful Change Management, Forbes' 3 Stages of Successful Change Management, and Knowhow Nonprofit's Five Steps to Successful Change.
These experts offer valuable steps, which are worth exploring, but don’t undervalue the importance of first starting with ourselves as the leaders in the change. Change might first have to start with ourselves before it can start with others and an organization.
I have had more than two decades of various experiences in leading change management and even studied the theories in my undergrad and graduate classes. So with my level of expertise, here's what I would add as a first step to successful change management: self assessment and personal change.
I realize this step could be an entire article, or even its own book, but for the sake of brevity, here’s my three overarching thoughts:
Get clear with your role
By envisioning and understanding your role and what you can offer throughout the change management process, including your expectations of others and yourself, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with others. Keep in mind, by getting clear with your role, you may also come to recognize that you are not the best person to lead the change management, and this is okay. After all, if you are not the right person to lead the change management then the change will ultimately not be successful. Your awareness of this, makes you a great leader.
Explore and understand your values
Our values play a crucial role on what we do in life, how we react, and our priorities. Not everyone has the same values and organizations also have their own values. Knowing your own values can help you understand your reactions and feelings to best able you to make effective decisions and take action. Additionally, understanding other people’s values will help you navigate relationships and priorities. For a quick and effective tool, check out the free value assessment that Barrett Values Centre offers.
Choose the best approach
There are many change management processes that you could choose to follow, some of which are linked in this blog. Research the various models to truly understand the process and outcomes they are suggesting and then choose one, or a combination of models that will ultimately empower others. It is also important to not just choose a model that currently fit with your organization, but rather one that aligns with where you want the organization to be.