How does change leadership work to make an agency, organization or company succeed? Elementally there are 6 key attributes involved in change leadership. These attributes include: example, change, promotion, honesty, communication and leadership. Using these specific attributes leaders can promote positive growth that is unachievable with previous models.
Through past and current example
History and current practice is almost everything that subordinates and other leaders look at when determining how a future leader will function. Whether a shift supervisor for environmental services in an office building or the CEO of a top 10 company, the past is how people will judge the future. Excellent leaders always attempt to lead by example and show others that what they preach is what they themselves practice. Great leaders know they cannot and should not ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves.
Very few if any successful leaders resist change in their area of business. Change is how the world moves forward and leadership that does not recognize, embrace and promote change is forever falling behind. Steve Jobbs made Apple what it is today because he led by encouraging change. In fact, as one of the greatest leaders in computer science to date Jobbs was noted for promoting change that the customer didn’t even realize they needed. Many other computer companies have come and gone in the market place and yet Apple has become recognized as one of the most reliable platforms with the best interfaces between human and machine. A primary reason for this success is simply change is encouraged and promoted from the top down.
Promote and reward future leaders
Leadership may be an inherent trait but acquiring the skills necessary to become a great leader takes time and experience. Tomorrow’s leaders usually start as subordinates for someone else as they build their careers. Great leaders recognize this and take the next generation on an incremental journey to learn, acquire and excel in leadership roles. Along this journey they are regularly encouraged to take on new responsibilities, promoted to new titles and rewarded with increased benefits. Great leaders don't worry about the up and coming pushing them out of their current position, they worry about the legacy they have built coming to a close because no one is ready to assume control.
Honesty is above all
Leadership mandates that subordinates and colleagues alike trust what a leader is saying, whether the message is good or bad. This trust given to leaders is granted only on a provisional basis at first and requires the leader to continuously earn future trust. Great leaders recognize this requirement and promote and exemplify honesty throughout their careers. At times they are required to give information out that will not be liked, embraced or of good fortune to others, “the company will close its doors on April 1st”. They may be required to help employees who are feeling uncertain to ‘stay the path’ while change is occurring “the numbers are down but our plan is _____ to bring the company back”. Great leaders know that honesty and integrity is their lifeline to their company, colleagues and subordinates. Once honesty is lost, the only certainty is uncertainty.
Leadership is more then directing others what to do, how to accomplish things and when it should be completed. Great leaders also focus their time on communicating throughout the company and encouraging open, honest and respectful communication across all disciplines. These leaders recognize that often the best communication strategy is to listen twice as much as they speak. They also use a set of pre-established rules that help keep communications open so that people involved feel free to discuss positives, negatives and anything in between. Great leaders have more then the ability to speak at a seminar or publish a paper, they take the time to listen, understand the others perspective and then offer a response appropriate for the situation.
Lead, not boss
A great leader is almost universally a great boss; a great boss is not always a great leader. Recently a piece of art made its way around Facebook that exemplified this perfectly. In the picture several stick people are positioned on a mountain. On the left side of the mountain several figures are alone, climbing, reaching for the top. None of the figures are helping each other and one even fell off. At the very top of the mountain one figure has arms raised and a caption “boss”.
On the other side of the mountain a little ways down from the summit were several other figures. The bottom figure had an arm stretched out overhead and the next figure up was reaching down to help pull the figure up. This was repeated one by one until you reach the ledge the top figure was perched on, leaning over with arm outreached for the figure below. This top figure on the right had the caption “leader”.
Although the “boss” may have been higher up on the mountain then the “leader”, he was also alone, had lost numerous people during the climb and probably had stepped on the hands of others who were close behind. His level of productivity and having anyone else follow him after he departs the “boss” position is fraught with questions. The leader on the other hand didn’t rise as far but had a group of people who worked together to all reach their summit. He has support to help him accomplish things, he has earned and continued to exemplify why they should trust him and he is leading them by showing them the way to the top. Together they have the opportunity to accomplish many more things then if he were by himself.
Bosses exist alone, leaders work besides others. Change leadership, its about taking responsibility, productivity and profitability to the next level, embrace the ‘C’.