Big changes were coming to Brandon’s architectural and engineering firm. Senior leadership wanted to move away from several markets it had historically served and move into new markets that they believed offered more opportunity. Departments and teams would certainly be reorganized. To enter new markets, new hires would be needed to fill gaps in the company’s expertise. And at least some layoffs would probably happen as the company pulled out of older markets. Brandon, a relatively new department leader, wondered: “What are the essential traits for leading organizational change?
One might argue that change is constantly happening and that all of the characteristics required for great leadership are needed… change is simply part of a leader’s job. However, every once in a while, change is the dominant feature of the organization’s landscape, and leading organizational change is especially important.
Brandon Explores What Leading Organizational Change Requires
Brandon’s firm made executive coaching available to those it thought high potential for leadership development. Working with his coach, Brandon explored several approaches to leading through change and identified four leadership traits that he thought were especially important to help him lead his department through the changes ahead.
Brandon saw that communication with his department would be absolutely vital to leading organization change. He needed to be forthcoming, consistently visible, and as transparent as he could possibly be. He needed to focus on being a good listener as well. Soft skills and context would be key.
Senior leadership painted a big-picture vision of the firm’s future. In order to successfully lead his department through change, Brandon needed to understand the company’s strategic vision, contribute to its development, and embrace it. He was learning how to be a better strategic thinker, and the coming changes served as an added incentive to hone those leadership skills.
Hand-in-glove with his growing skill as a strategic thinker, Brandon recognized that communicating the “Why” of the new market strategy was more important than communicating the “What” of the organizational changes.
Brandon has been working with his coach on his executive presence — how he communicates and presents himself to others.
When taken to an extreme, executive presence can be a parody of itself — power ties, self-confidence bordering on delusional, power stances and body language, superficial interest in others, overly-firm handshake, and more. But true executive presence is authentic and genuine, and draws on a leader’s emotional intelligence. And perception is important. To be a successful leader, not only is it important to possess leadership qualities, people also need to believe you possess those qualities.
Change does not come easy. It’s never a smooth, clear path. There are always unexpected hurdles and challenges. And when we stumble and fall, we need to be able to pick ourselves back up, dust ourselves off, and move forward, undaunted. That is the essence of resilience — the ability to get past challenges, problems, and failures, go forward, and deal in a constructive way with stress.
Resilience doesn’t mean that your problems magically go away. It means that you have the capacity to get past them, move forward, deal productively with stress, and more readily find purpose and happiness in life. This was another area of development for Brandon. He understood that he needed to lead, consistently, over the long haul, and that he would not be successful if he was easily derailed by setbacks.
Will you be leading, or helping lead your organization through change? What leadership traits will be especially important for you to grow?
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To learn more about leadership development and leading organizational change, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.