Leading Successful Change and Transformation
Behind every successful company, organization, business, is an authentic leader who is creative and innovative, result oriented, inspiring employees to massive action, leads from the front, creating an enabling environment for peak performance. I was recently speaking to leaders in an Oil and Gas Company and I asked the audience to write down the name of the leader they most admired in their organization and the leader they will literally die for. I then asked the audience to shout out the name of the person and 98% of the audience gave the same name. I tried the exercise on another set of audience from the same organization and the same name came up. When I asked what they most admired about this person I got the following response: we trust him, he leads from the front, he inspires action, he is authentic, when things go wrong, he doesn’t play the blame game but supports the team for resolution; he is always available when you need him, he shares the credit for a good job done. On and on they shared the attributes of this person. When leaders lead, the results follow!
Research shows that out of every ten change and transformation project or program, only three are successful registering a 70% failure rate. We now have thousands of books written on how to lead successful change and transformation; many models, frameworks, and methodologies for leading change and transformation; hundreds of change practitioners, change managers and coordinators, consultants, just name it and yet the needle has not significantly shifted in ensuring successful change and transformation. The question is why? As leaders we continue to do things the same way and expect a different results. There is this belief and craze going on that the hiring of a change manager or transformation lead supported by fancy methodologies and lots of communication is the answer to successful change and transformation. A leader was telling me recently with pride how they now have a change manager to lead the charge on change and transformation and how they are now looking forward to a smooth ride in their change efforts. I alerted him that though that is a step in the right direction, it is however not the cure for their challenges with unsuccessful change and transformation.
I have had the privilege of working with so many leaders, facilitated board meetings, been a coach to a number of leaders, facilitated leadership retreats, on and off-site meetings; change and transformation keynote speeches, leadership development programs and facilitated training programs on successful change and transformation. My conclusion to ensuring successful change and transformation is that leaders must begin to see change and transformation as a strategic imperative just as they see financial management, business development, investment, operational excellence and all the other variables impacting the bottom-line, outcomes and results. It is a known fact that the stronger the leadership bench, the greater the results and outcomes. Each line manager, or functional leader must begin to lead change just as they lead their respective functions. The C-Suite should begin to place change and transformation on their executive agenda as they discuss various ideas impacting ROI and business performance. Billions of dollars are wasted each year due to poor leadership and implementation of change and transformation. Projects and programs are aborted each year, territory protection by misaligned leaders affecting transformation outcomes, organizational infighting and politics; resistance from employees taking advantage of the chaos have all impacted successful change and transformation.
My suggestion for leading successful change and transformation is that leaders should now begin to lead the charge on change and transformation rather than leave it in the hands of change and transformation experts, consultants, or practitioners. The role of these change and transformation managers should be about coaching leaders to lead and be the face of change and transformation. The approach should shift from relinquishing change leadership to a few change and transformation hands hired to having functional leaders taking full responsibility and accountability for successful change and transformation. Change and transformation consultants and coaches should become “Guides” helping leaders with the tools, templates, plans, insights, encouragement, for successful change and transformation. When leaders lead successfully, change and transformation success is the outcome.