Once you start to be responsible for people you are not just a manager, you need to be a leader too. You need to know what it takes to lead, and as a leader, change is one of the key parts of your role that you must understand and lead your people in. There is no option. Change happens every day, and as we all know increases in speed every year, no matter what industry we are in.
The next five to ten years will continue to see massive changes in technology: increasing use of robots, huge increases in processing power, AI, 5G, nano-technology, 3D printers and more; increasing use of Social Media by businesses, new levels of competition, especially on-line, not only with Europe, but globally, new modes of transport (self-driving, electric lorries and cars) and massive developments in the health care and pharmaceutical markets. And this will all be against the back drop of a flat economy. These changes, and more that we don’t even know about yet, will affect our businesses in one way or another.
For leaders it means not only a need to tune into our environment constantly, but also to have a real understanding of how to engage with all our people and lead them in a meaningful journey towards a compelling future that we need to envision.
There are many things that leaders need to think about, I have picked out 10 steps to success, that I believe are essential:
1. Tune into your environment
- External: What’s affecting your business now and will/might affect your business in the future?
- Internal: What’s your capability and what’s your capacity? Where are there problems? Look for the root causes.
2. Regularly review and refine your strategy
- On the basis of answers to point 1, what should you be doing differently?
3. Create a culture of constant change
- Create change through continuous improvement. Know your people individually. Encourage them to be the best they can be. Embrace and reward new ideas.
- Engage your people in doing the analysis and as well as coming up with solutions.
- Don’t engage people in your conclusions – give them the rationale for the change and allow them to draw their own conclusions (in line with yours).
5. Create constant avenues for learning and growth
- Remember to include coaching and mentoring.
6. Influence your people through passion, emotion and truth, rather than just analysis
- Tell stories, demonstrate with real examples, use analogies and metaphors, and be visual. Get people excited about the change
7. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Be honest about both success and failure. You cannot not communicate. If you leave a vacuum, people will fill it with their own version of reality.
8. Be a role model for the changes you want to see in others
- You have to demonstrate yourself the new changes you need to see, and the leadership team must be aligned with you.
9. Align your systems and processes
- This is essential in order to support and help to embed the changes or they may work against you.
10. Understand that change takes time
- Don’t celebrate too soon! To embed a new behaviour, you must repeat it at least 20 times or it will not become an established pattern and people will revert to previous behaviour. Make sure any and all changes you make are also embedded in new systems and processes or change the existing ones.