I’ve been doing this work for decades, and I have never really thought of it as managing change. Rather, I think of it as leading transformations – or transformational leadership. There are two primary focuses.
- When an organization goes through some sort of change, it is transforming from one state to a new state. The focus first needs to be on the outcomes of the transformation – not on the transformation itself.
- While it is true that the work must be managed, the focus must also be on the work required to lead the organization to the new state, not merely on managing the activities that accomplish the transformation.
My own experience, backed up by study after study, indicates that the focus on leadership during transformation is essential. The number one attribute of successful transformations is actively visible sponsorship – or leadership. If the leadership team is not aligned to the purpose and working to ensure the organization is enrolled to drive it forward, the chance of success drops significantly.
For a long time, I was self-critical because plans I developed at the beginning of a project were often significantly altered as we proceeded through the transformation. Once I realized that changing the plan was representative of the growth of the leaders leading the transformation, changing the plan became an indicator of successful leadership transformation – a key ingredient to the approach outlined above. I a reminded of a quote by Abraham Lincoln, “I shall adopt new views as fast as they shall appear to be true views.”
Therefore, it behooves those of us in the business to start calling this work what it is: Transformational Leadership. Everything we do to help an organization drive to a successful transformational change is rooted in this concept.
Dedicated to your profitable transformation,