At the end of this segment you will be able to:
- Define Change Leadership and when it is needed
- Differentiate change leadership from other concepts like change management or tech advancement.
- Use the Change Leadership process to help you and others achieve their goals.
- Start learning and leveraging the Change Leadership mindset.
Looking at the world through the lens of change leadership will give you better ways to: learn, prioritize, execute. empower others, and above all: demonstrate top-tier effectiveness and maximize your impact.
So what exactly is change leadership and what do we mean by it? Why is this phrase so important and how is it different from other similar-sounding concepts - like change management?
Let's dig in.
Change Leadership Definition
Change leadership is a process of:
- Noticing flaws in the status quo and recognizing that change is needed and that a better outcome is possible.
- Initiating solutions to those flaws: these solutions may take the form of new or modified platforms, tools, processes, models or organizations.
- Mobilizing and empowering people to understand, adopt and successfully use these new solutions, and move toward that better outcome.
- Navigating and overcoming challenges in a persistent manner that achieves that desired outcome.
What change leadership is:
- A way of seeing: Noticing flaws in the status quo and recognizing that change is needed.
- A way of innovating: Designing and developing solutions to those flaws: these solutions may take the form of new or modified platforms or tools, processes organizations, or organizational approaches.
- A way of connecting: Mobilizing and empowering people to understand, adopt and successfully use these new solutions, and move toward that better outcome.
- A way of executing: Driving change in a way that effectively overcomes obstacles and ultimately achieves that better outcome.
What change leadership is NOT:
- Not "change for change's sake," and it's not about being a cool futurist. Change leadership is about seeing what kind of change is needed, and making that change happen. It's about making something better that otherwise isn't going to get better.
- Not careless innovation that has unforeseen side effects. Carefully crafted change that brings benefits. Needed change.
- Not change management. Change management is a set of approaches used by management to minimize objections or resistance to organizational change.
Effective change leadership is also not just a process but a mindset, a kind of awareness that gives you new and better ways to lead.
When is change leadership needed?
Change leadership isn't needed for routine or trivial things, or things where there are no disagreements or challenges. Flat tires, spilled milk, dirty laundry, the average project - these aren't change initiatives. Those are just tasks.
Change leadership isn't needed for top-down management decisions about org structures or product lines - getting people to accept or stop resisting organizational decisions made without their involvement (that's change management).
Change leadership becomes necessary when change is needed AND when that change isn't happening because:
- There is debate about whether the change is needed or not, or what exact change is needed
- There are multiple parties and they are not aligned
- There is an asymmetry between the comfortable vs the uncomfortable, the haves and the have-nots
- There's a lack of clarity and alignment that is allowing the unacceptable status quo to continue
- Allowing the status quo to continue is unacceptable because it imposes unjust impacts on current or future individuals /communities/generations.
In other words, intervention is required. The situation won't simply "work itself out" via status quo, business-as-usual processes and tactics. Change is required.
Most if not all of the key challenges faced by conscientious businesses, communities, and entrepreneurs in the 21st century are change leadership opportunities.
Challenges faced by customers and stakeholders, rapidly evolving technology and economics, climate impacts - these are not situations that "off the shelf" consulting frameworks or software apps can solve. They represent new territory. A change leader is needed. Otherwise, everyone follows a status quo approach, laced with false tradeoffs and misguided beliefs that this is as good as things can be.
Change Leadership is a journey...let's go!
You are on a journey to learn about change leadership, what change you can lead, and how you can make a difference.