For any organization, change is a natural part of day-to-day work. From employee transitions to industry innovations, change is inevitable. For leaders, adapting to change can be difficult if they don’t have the right mindset, tools, or capabilities to do so. The speed of change has rapidly increased over the years — such as the advent of telehealth and new digital technologies to support healthcare. In fact, the United States boasts the largest growing health industry in the world, consisting now of over 784,626 companies. With a 9.7% annual rate of growth, it’s more important than ever for leaders to master the art of change.
As a business leader, it's important to remember that although change is inevitable, your leadership can have a tremendous impact on the transition — defined as the adjustment an organization goes through to adapt to change. Letting go of former practices to create new, flexible processes is a natural part of organizational growth. In this blog, we’re sharing some of the biggest mistakes to avoid when leading change to help leaders stay flexible and adaptable through periods of transition.
1. Jumping Too Quickly to a Solution
When leading change, giving in to the urge to quickly solve the problem at hand and begin implementing a solution can be incredibly attractive. Taking the first solution and running with it leaves no room for debate or consideration among diverse stakeholders. There could be a potentially better solution found by engaging in thoughtful dialogue with others to address the root problem. By approaching the issue with patience and engaging others, better solutions will evolve.
Before tackling the problem and implementing a solution, leaders should allow themselves time to evaluate the issue from multiple perspectives. Incorporating different viewpoints into planning, decision-making, and management of day-to-day work allows time to consider multiple solutions to the problem, and builds engagement with others who will need to be brought along as part of the change process.
2. Failing to Engage with the Emotional Components of Change
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions to better react to and empathize with others. This is often referred to as an emotional quotient, or EQ. When leading change, emotional intelligence matters — 71% of employees say they are more engaged when leaders value EQ over IQ. Ignoring the emotional components of change inhibits the ability of leadership to engage with the emotions of others.
When faced with major industry changes (technological advances, mergers, etc.), many employees feel intense emotions ranging from excitement to confusion and everything in between. When emotions are haywire, it’s important for leadership to acknowledge everyone’s feelings to make them feel safe and heard. This helps employees trust those leading change more, and have faith in the solutions that are being implemented.
"As a leader, it is easy to fall prey into thinking that once you've said something to a person or team it's been heard, understood, and everyone is on board,” says Tracy Duberman, Ph.D., President and CEO of TLD Group, “Leading change takes an abundance of communication with various stakeholders using multiple mediums and formats. Make sure you're creating space to seek out, consider, and respond to any worries or concerns stakeholders may have about the change process."
3. Becoming Too Attached to a Plan
Effectively leading change requires agility. It’s easy to reach a solution, make a plan, and move forward with no flexibility. While having a plan for the transition is important, it’s crucial to stay flexible. One of the defining aspects of change is its consistency — a plan made at the beginning of a transitional period may not be as effective several months later as priorities shift.
Remaining open to changing the plan to better suit evolving needs is key to leading change. Just as leadership needs to evaluate each potential option when initially searching for the right solution, leaders need to accept changing circumstances and different viewpoints throughout the process. For instance, a new documentation process implemented early on in a change process may create an unintended administrative burden on employees later on. Leading change effectively requires the ability to restructure the solution to accommodate feedback.
4. Not Investing in Leadership Development
Investing in leadership development while leading change is a game-changer for any organization. Whether providing executive coaching for an employee stepping into a new role or equipping current leadership with stronger skills, leadership development helps anyone leading change to better adapt to new situations and challenges.
During times of change, TLD Group’s leadership academies can be a powerful tool for empowering and enabling change agents across your organization. Through our experiential action learning process, multi-disciplinary learning teams are brought together to collaboratively work toward leading organizational change efforts. Leaders receive hands-on experience and individualized training for leading change that make current and future transitional periods much smoother for the entire organization.
Leading change is never easy — from navigating mergers to stepping into a role with new responsibilities, learning to adapt and remain flexible while setting a strong example for employees is key for any leader. Developing the skills to lead change is an invaluable skill that will help your organization adapt to the future, no matter what it may hold.
Want to empower your leaders as effective change agents? Get in touch with us and see how our leadership academies can help your organization.