“No man ever steps twice in the same river.” These words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus remind us that change, like death and taxes, is one of the few constants we can rely upon in life.
Rapid developments in technology have increased the global rate of change to a fever pitch. Last year, a poll of Fortune 500 CEOs revealed that one of the biggest challenges facing business leaders is the blinding speed with which technology has been changing the corporate landscape. 94% of them agreed that the changes facing their company over the next 5 years will significantly outstrip those of the last 5.
You don’t have to lead a massive organization to know that the marketplace is in a state of rapid flux. Every day it seems a new entrepreneur emerges from the shadows with his choir of angel investors looking to ‘disrupt’ this or that industry. How can a leader stay light enough on her feet to deal with the latest killer app without completely destabilizing her organization?
In other words, how can a leader successfully cope with and lead through change?
- Stick to Your Vision
If you’ve lost touch with that vital life force that brought your organization into being, then it’s time to refocus on the things that really matter. As the business environment continues to shift around you and you pivot accordingly, a rock-solid vision is the one thing that will keep you centered, your employees engaged, and your customers interested.
- Communicate Regularly
People hate unsubstantiated change. As a leader, your challenge will be to sell change to your employees and/or customers. The better you connect stakeholders with your core vision, the easier it will be to show them how it can best be realized by a change in policy and/or practice.
- Develop People
We all want to grow. Better than asking people to change is to take an active role in helping them grow into the new demands of an ever-evolving marketplace. Don’t give them a set of tools that will expire next month. Instead, teach them the way of adaptation. You’ll end up with a more nimble team who not only adapts to change quickly but can even anticipate curves in the road ahead.
- Raise Up Leaders
While you’re developing your people, look for future leaders. The best leaders are always seeking to develop leadership within their ranks. Identify these potential “change agents” on your team and give them key responsibilities in implementing change. This grassroots-style approach will help you find support at every level of the organization.
- Don’t Give Up!
Strong leadership is persistent leadership. Never lose sight of where you want your organization needs to go. You’re not here to lead to change but to lead through it. The river of change may continue to flow around you but with these 5 things in mind, you’ll successfully lead your people through to the other side.