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Leading change

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Advice on how to guide your non profit or charitable organisation through times of change.

Change leadership is critical to organizational change. This section includes insights and practical questions to set you up for success when leading change.

If you’re planning to make changes in your organisation, how can you ensure it goes as smoothly as possible? To bring about change and create momentum, you need to know where you are heading. This is what change leadership is all about.

Be clear about your outcomes

If you want to bring about change, start with the end in mind. It could be that you want your team to be more positive and responsive to clients. You may want to see more rigorous standards and discipline in the way things are done. Any change is likely to involve some changes in what you and your team do and how they do things.

Ask yourself:

  • What end result you want?
  • What will be different when the changes are successful?
  • What people will be doing, saying, thinking and feeling differently?
  • How you will know it has been a success?
  • Why this is important?

If you have clear answers to these questions, you will be in a better position to share your vision with others and engage them in discussions about how to make it happen.

Step-by-step processes for managing change programmes are useful – but what you do and say as a leader can make or break your efforts.

Key success factors for leaders in times of change

All employees are 'boss watchers' – your actions speak louder than your words. What you do is far more important than what you say.

Ed Schein of the Massuchusetts Institute of Technology has identified 10 key success factors for organisations in times of change. The first three are all of particular relevance to leaders:

  • what leaders pay attention to, measure and control
  • what leaders do in critical moments when the chips are down – it shows who you really are
  • the role model and the extent to which they coach their people.

So how can you use this information to good effect when leading change?  Test how well you do each of these and whether your actions are consistent with your words and the change you want to see.

Do your actions stack up with the changes you want to see?

Think about a change you want to bring about. Test out whether your answers to these questions match up with the changes you want to bring about.

Are you paying attention to, measuring and controlling the right things?

  • What questions do you ask your team about what they are doing?
  • What standards or measures do you use?
  • Who do you praise and why?

What do you do when faced with a challenge?

  • Think of a tough situation you’ve been in recently. What did you do and say?
  • What messages did that convey about what is really important to you?
  • How well does that stack up with the changes you want?

Are you modelling the change you want to see?

  • Are you modelling the behaviours you want to see in others?
  • In times of trouble it can be tempting to take control – but you can also get control by letting go. How well are you coaching your team to think for themselves and find solutions? Do you take over and do things yourself?

Are you being honest with yourself?

  • How honest are you really being with yourself? You can check this out with others and ask for their ideas on how you could enhance what you do.

Useful links

Further reading

Page last edited Jul 13, 2017
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