Change is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s been at the core of what I do for over 25 years. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the topic of leading change. We’ve talked for years about managing change but not leading change.
Leading change is different from change management. Change management is a well thought out set of approaches and tools that supports change, often at a project level. For example, there is a change management component to installing a new system, transitioning how you do performance management, or introducing a new project. It happens in parallel to the project to make sure the business solution is implemented and that people adopt the new behaviors associated with it. It focuses on understanding the difference between the current state and future state, creating communication and training plans, identifying early adopters and resisters and paving the way for the business outcome to be reached. It is a very important toolkit and competence that should be part of projects that introduce change.
Leading change is about creating and communicating a vision for change and is not directly tied to a project or initiative. It is what drives the business solution, not what implements it. It is transformational. It creates a mindset across the organization that focuses on what could or should be different rather than asking them to simply adopt an already determined solution. It removes the shackles of how we do things and asks people to truly engage in the change, to become part of creating a solution. It enables others to think differently. It moves change along more rapidly and more efficiently, even while it creates a sense of upheaval. It is what makes people say “I HAVE to be part of this.” It creates momentum and a desire to continually move to the next phase or next level.
Most executives I talk to and organizations I work with are hungry for change leadership. What about yours? Do you only manage change or do you truly lead it?