Leading Change When Everything Continues to Change

Jul 07, 2017 1 Min Read



Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. –Winston Churchill

Change is constant and the new normal is uncertainty.

The biggest leadership skill needed now and in the future is the ability to navigate ongoing disruptions and that requires “courage”. The courage to evolve.

Have you noticed that disruptions are not limited to work – there are multiple disruptions happening in every area of our lives? There is a quickening and an intensity to change that is forcing evolutionary responses from all of us.

Here are three ways to lead change in times of uncertainty:

1. Look to your past not for solutions but for clues

The solutions for now and the future are going to be found in creativity and applied creativity which is innovation.

Many leaders will attempt to solve a current challenge with a solution that worked in the past – this could be appropriate if the challenge is small in scope and has little future impact.

However the past can show us very important clues about our ability to solve challenges and can remind us of our energy reserves and resilience.

For example, a client of mine had a Gen-Y who was consistently showing up five minutes late for work. This bothered my client who is a Gen-X and she kept telling her staff that she had to come in on time – an approach that may have worked in the past.

This approach didn’t work until my client creatively decided to create a fun and light incentive for the Gen-Y – she told her that if she came in on time for the next two weeks she would get the employee her favourite Starbucks drink as an incentive. It worked!

The incentive created a “pattern interrupt” and the Gen-Y was on time since then.

Read also: Looking Back, Moving Forward


2. Be empathetic of other people’s fears and notice your own fears of the future

It is completely natural to be afraid of not knowing what’s next and change leaders feel the fear and move through it quickly so that he or she can guide others through it. In my book, The Art of Change Leadership – Driving Transformation In a Fast Paced World, I went into details on the stages of change and how change leaders have fine-tuned the ability to go from fear and resistance to creative solutions and future-focused actions.

Empathy is a major future of work skill – the ability to intuit, to emotionally connect to other people’s fears while acknowledging your own builds trust and creates transparency. For example, simply saying to someone “I know you are afraid – I am afraid too” can build a strong bridge that leads others to the changes you want to go to.

This might interest you: How To Woo Employees With Empathy

3. Lead others to flip perspectives

The biggest contribution that change leaders can make is to help others see things in a fresh perspective that adds energy and provides creative solutions.

The next time you are communicating with an employee, your boss or a team mate, focus on the language that leads to action and energy. When people are in fear they can get mired in negative language, repetitive patterns of resisting change and lack initiative to take action towards the future.

For example if your employee says, “I don’t know what’s going to happen to my job so I will keep doing what I am doing” you could flip their perspective to shift them from apathy to energy.

You could say, “You are right we are all in major uncertainty right now – the not knowing what’s next can be hard and what if we looked at not knowing as exciting and skill building rather than fearing some negative outcome?” Helping others to flip perspective is a key gift of an inspiring change leader.

Change leaders have to face his or her own fears, come up with strategies to move through the fear and then be the beacon of light for others to go through uncertainty with new skills and strategies.

This might interest you: 7 Things That Make Exceptional Bosses

Cheryl Cran is a Future of Work and Change Leadership expert, the author of “The Art of Change Leadership” and the founder of Evolutionary Leadership Training. To connect with Cheryl, e-mail to editor@leaderonomics.com

Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com

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This article is published by the editors of Leaderonomics.com with the consent of the guest author. 

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