Leading change: How leaders can foster the embrace of change

From the chrysalis, the beautiful butterfly is born. From the acorn, the mighty oak grows. Change is one of the few certainties in your life. It can be unexpected. It can feel disorientating and unwelcome, it creates disruption and pushes us out of our comfort zones. It can lead people to feel afraid of what the future holds.

Rather than resisting change, which is often futile anyway, people who have learned to embrace change are often better able to capitalise on the opportunities that inevitably follow in change’s footsteps.

In this article, we list three good reasons why people should embrace change as an important trigger for personal and professional growth – and how leaders can create the environment where change is embraced.

Reason 1. Embracing change is less stressful than fighting it

As an individual, you might not like all changes that come your way. This too is a fact of life. Instead of looking at change in fear, turn your thinking to the opportunities that follow in change’s wake. Every change is a turning point – you may not be able to control your environment and the change that goes on within it, but you can control how you manage it.

As a leader, you need to set the expectation with your team that change is inevitable. By setting expectations early, you avoid team members from feeling blindsided when change occurs. If you set your vision as a dynamic, evolving organisation, your team will be better prepared for shifts that happen.

Reason 2. You’ll grow from change

At an individual level, every time something in your life changes, so do you. Who wants to live a completely staid, predictable and boring life? Progress is the outcome of change, not standing still. People who manage change well, especially career or role changes, understand that each change brings new skills, new knowledge and new opportunities. The days of staying in one job for life are long gone. Whether you change within your company, or move to another, there is no negative stigma these days with pursuing a career that is in line with your interests, values and skills.

As a leader, it’s important to be honest with your team. Even when change is positive, your team will immediately think “how will this affect me?” If the change is negative, don’t pretend it’s positive because your team will see straight through it. Give your team time to absorb the changes being undertaken and invite them to ask questions. It will take time to move the team in line with change, especially if it’s difficult changes that are being implemented.

Reason 3. Change can be habit forming

Travellers learn to embrace diverse cultures, changing the way they see the world. Their mind is expanded by these new experiences and the ‘travel bug’ is simply the habit of wanting more of it.

People who experience change more regularly learn flexibility, adaptability and to prioritise change as a positive way to build experiences, knowledge and skills. In other words, the more you experience change, the more you get used to it. Just as habit is the result of a repetitive situation, when change is a normal part of a team’s working life, the team is more likely to embrace it.

As a leader, you work in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Leaders who can plan for change and remain dynamic, and who listen to and adapt quickly to a changing environment, are the ones who remain successful.

How leaders can prepare for change

The process of change can be highly disruptive in the workplace. Knowing the predictable reactions to change and how to prepare for them can significantly reduce both the distraction and the negative impacts of change and improve the engagement and uptake of all those affected.

Leadership Dimensions offers a 2-day program on Leading Others Through Change that covers human reactions to change, consistent messaging, how to support fearful staff and more.

Download the course outline: Leading Others Through Change >>

In planning change initiatives, it is important to consider the time it takes for people to transition, to learn new skills and to move through the emotional journey associated with change. Change can feel overwhelming and leave people feeling exhausted.

Leadership Dimensions offers a 2-day program on Preventing Change Fatigue that covers identifying the symptoms of change fatigue, planning for the impacts of change, developing personal coping mechanisms and more.

Download the course outline: Preventing Change Fatigue >>

When change is transformational, organisations experience a fundamental shift in “how things are done around here”. Engagement, buy-in and behavioural change are key to the change success.

Leadership Dimensions offers a 2-day program on Building Commitment to Cultural Transformation that covers the readiness for change, influencing skills, cultural change process and tools, engaging hearts and minds and more.

Download the course outline: Building Commitment to Cultural Transformation >>

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