Friday, December 9, 2011

Transformational change needs a strong team

After ensuring people understand that the pain of staying where we are is greater than the cost of moving forward, the next thing a change leader needs to put in place is a powerful coalition of people committed to change.

Leaders are rarely located just at the hierarchical 'top' of an organization. And you're in deep trouble if they are! To build and maintain the change momentum it's necessary to find the key influencers throughout the organization, and build them together as a team committed to seeing the change through. Be aware that their power and influence won't just come from job title or position in the hierarchy, but from their expert knowledge, network of relationships and more...

In leading change you'll need to identify these people and ask for an emotional commitment from them. Then work hard on team building within this change coalition, making sure that the commitment to change doesn't fizzle out when the going begins to get tough. You can't lead change on your own, and it won't be a short-term effort for anything that's going to last.
I've learned some of these lessons the hard way: it's tempting to feel the pressure to make progress and jump into change before ensuring that around three quarters of those impacted grasp the need to make the change; and it's sometimes easy to take glib verbal commitments from the 'change coalition' at face value and realise too late that they're not fully on board or, worse, subtly putting the brakes on, or trying to steer change in a different direction... 
But then, if change leadership was easy, everyone would be doing it!
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