Let’s start by understanding the definition of change management. One of the most popular definition of change management was given by Prosci who defines change management as a process of handling human aspect of change with the help of required tools, process and methods to ensure business goals are not compromised.
Introducing a change eventually impacts one of the four aspects of an organization, which is process, system, organization structure or people. Typically, a change is introduced to combat a problem or to achieve an aspiration. So, change management is basically supporting people with the necessary tools to aid in coping and adapt better to the changed environment.
“Change requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership (Kotter, 1995).”
Change Leadership is defined by Higgs and Rowland (2000) popularly as one’s ability to influence everyone using their drive or vision and to provide proper tools to manage and adapt to change better. One of the key aspects to a successful change management is leadership.
To be an influential change leader one must be able to clearly present a business case highlighting the need for change and devise an action plan to manage through the change. Change leader should be able to communicate the change to everyone – up, down and across the vertical and align them to the vision and values. It also comprises the ability to describe the strategic plan to everyone and define everyone’s roles in the process. There needs to be interim follow ups to ensure everyone has understood the strategy clearly. Proper measurement and revisits to the change process is crucial and the leader must ensure everyone is working through the change to achieve the established goal.
Change Management vs Change Leadership
These two terms change management and change leadership are not interchangeable, but both has substantial amount of connect. A good change leadership will aid effective change management. Change management, however, is about those tools and structures that aid in sailing through the process of change and keep the negative impact of change under control. On the other hand, change leadership is focused on the human aspects like the vision of the company, values and alignment to processes and systems that act as the catalyst for any change or transformation. Change leadership is considered to be the driving force for change management.
Certain crucial aspects for success of change management are:
Willingness to adapt to change: It is essential for the workforce to embrace the change at some point and start working their ways through the change. Everyone naturally tends to resist change as that’s the natural response. But it is also essential to slowly pass through that phase and adapt to change. This willingness to change will be very helpful in the entire process of working through the change. Leaders play an important role to help adapt to change by explaining the rationale for change and providing the right structure and flexibility to work with it.
Rewards and Consequences: For anyone to adapt to change there needs to be well defined rewards and consequences communicated. The objectives and the process of measuring the results need to be well defined and the rewards need to be connected to their individual development plan. Similar process works for consequences as well.
This provides a clear structure to the workforce and easier way to track progress for the management. For these to happen smoothly, there needs to be strong leadership which we refer as change leadership. Change leaders need to demonstrate the skills of communication, collaboration and commitment to help employees adapt to change.
So, most organizations have worked their way through change management but change leadership is where the focus is required. In order to develop leaders who are influential and can help the team transition through the change, leadership and personal coaching can be very helpful tools.