Last updated on March 19th, 2024 at 04:30 pm

New trends, advancing technologies and shifting societal norms constantly require businesses across all fields and industries to change and adapt. Leading through change can be daunting and intimidating, but leaders play a crucial role in the transition process. By understanding change leadership and the change management process, you can become an intuitive and effective manager who can lead an organization through small transitions, seismic shifts and significant cultural changes.

What Is Change Leadership?

Change leadership is defined as the process of guiding a team or organization through a substantial disruption. Change leadership requires managers and supervisors to be well-versed in the best change management practices, as they will need to rely on those processes to maneuver through organizational change without disrupting productivity and while preserving overall team morale.

How Change Leaders Drive Innovation and Growth

According to LinkedIn, change leaders are some of the most effective and powerful leaders, largely because they are able to visualize the long-term goals for the organization and identify the short-term steps required to achieve those goals. Organizational change can be daunting, but change leaders are able to identify the end goal and work toward a solution that empowers all members of the team to participate.

Dissecting Change Leadership and Change Management

Change leadership and change management are two phrases that are often used in reference to one another, yet they are distinctly different concepts. Change management is a process, whereas change leadership is a style that an individual supervisor or manager adopts.

Important Distinctions Between Change Leadership vs. Change Management

Defining change leadership and change management can help distinguish between the two concepts. Per Blue Beyond Consulting, these are the key differences:

  • Change management is a process that outlines the steps that need to be taken to radically alter or change an organization.
  • Change leadership is a leadership process emphasizing the importance of clear, two-way communication and the ability to establish short-term goals that allow a team to work through change.

Why Both Are Necessary for a Successful Organization

While change leadership and change management are distinctly different, they must be implemented in tandem. By having change leaders in place who understand the change management process, organizations can better work through change — whether it’s planned or unplanned.

Essential Skills for Successful Change Leaders

If you are hoping to master the art of leading through change, you will want to focus on the following essential skills for change leaders. These skills are at the core of change leadership and the best change management practices:

Communication and Transparency

Communication and transparency are vital to change leadership. According to Indeed, leaders must be honest and upfront with workers when change is on the horizon. If team members hear about change from another source, or they begin to anticipate change but have not heard any official information, they will feel unsettled and unsure. This loss of trust and confidence may have a detrimental impact on both workplace morale and overall productivity.

Not only do you have to clearly communicate change, but you also have to be open to feedback. Listening to the concerns and input of your team members will allow you to adapt your change management process as necessary.

Collaboration and Team Building

Organizational change provides you with an opportunity to improve collaboration in the workplace and focus on team building. By becoming a leader who is willing to accept feedback and implement new ideas, you can prove to your team that they are a valuable asset to the organization at large. The collaboration and team building skills you emphasize throughout organizational change are transferable skills that may be used for years to come, ultimately creating a more positive and productive work environment even in the aftermath of change.

Determination and Positivity

Change can be intimidating and stressful, particularly for employees. Change leaders should focus on setting a positive example for those on their team and offer them reassurance that the team will endure the change together. That sense of determination can help people feel more confident and more willing to adapt to the changes occurring.

Strategies to Become an Effective Change Leader

Regardless of where you are at in your career or the industry that you are involved in, you can rely on these strategies in order to become an effective change leader:

Importance of a Clear Vision and Strategic Planning

Learning the key components of strategic planning helps you be the type of leader who can create a clear vision and allow others to see your vision as well. The process of strategic planning includes:

  • Outlining short- and long-term goals.
  • Creating organizational charts.
  • Establishing a timeline for the change process.

The Art of Delegating Tasks

Leading through change requires you to be the type of supervisor who is able to delegate tasks accordingly within your team. One of the easiest mistakes to make as a manager is to attempt to do it all yourself, but your role is to focus on the change process, while your team should be taking the small steps necessary to navigate through the change.

Celebrating Small Victories

Although there is likely a significant goal you are working toward amid organizational change, it’s imperative that you celebrate small victories along the way. Recognizing the contributions of your team and highlighting small milestones helps ensure that change feels manageable and attainable.

Embracing Change as an Opportunity for Growth

The uncertainty of change can be daunting, which can leave many employees resistant to the idea of change. According to the Harvard Business Review, developing a change growth mindset is critical for change leaders and their team members alike. By recognizing that change can have positive outcomes, both for the organization and the individual, you will be able to navigate any type of change with ease.

Overcoming Challenges in Change Leadership

Organizational change is incredibly complex and challenging. In fact, Gartner reports that only about one-third of change initiatives succeed. By being aware of the most common challenges, you can work to overcome them and successfully lead your organization through considerable change or disruption.

Handling Resistance to Change

According to BetterUp, you can manage resistance to change by:

  • Providing information about the change as early as possible.
  • Offering employees accurate information about the impact the change will have.
  • Highlighting the positive aspects of the change.
  • Listening to feedback and being empathetic to your team members’ feelings.

Ensuring Inclusivity During Changes

Team members who feel isolated or excluded are less likely to work collaboratively to accomplish change. In order to create an inclusive and cohesive environment, you should work to recognize the contributions of everyone on the team so that they all feel valued and appreciated.

Frequently Asked Questions

Continuing to Evolve as a Change Leader

A universal foundation in business management allows you to grow and develop as a change leader. At Salem University, our dynamic business management programs give you the opportunity to evolve and advance your career. From our Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Management degree to Master of Business Administration in Management degree, we offer aspiring business leaders at every stage of their career the chance to develop new skills.

Request more information about our online business degree programs today.

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