Helping Leaders in Change

—Chandler Milne | 10.14.20

Helping Leaders in Change

Chandler Milne, 10.14.20

As change experts, we're often asked, "How do I help my leaders with this change?". This just might be one of our favorite questions because just by asking it we know that the asker:

  1. Recognizes that leadership is important in change 
  2. Understands that they have a role in helping leaders 
  3. Is interested in making things happen - in building leadership support

So, here's what we usually share with them.

 

What is a leader?

First stop, let's think about what a leader is. Every leader is two things at the same time:

  1. Organizational leader - they are responsible for directing their team(s) to success. How their team communicates/collaborates/ gets work done is a critical (but often overlooked) component of that responsibility. And since it's 2020, that means technology matters. They don't have to worry about having the right type of carrier pigeons, but they should be thinking about what technology the team is using. 

  2. End user - they are human, after all, and they use the tools (and struggle with them) just as much as anyone else in the organization. Sometimes more.

Basically, learning how to use Microsoft Teams is different than learning how to lead Teams adoption, and our leaders need to do both.

Learning how to use Teams is different than learning how to lead Teams adoption.
Two women talking in a work setting

Our Role

As a project/IT/Digital transformation team, we need to address the distinct sides and needs of our leaders.

Organizational leader:

Our role here is twofold: ONE, it's to make it easy for org leaders to identify how technology can help their team(s) accomplish their goals. TWO, it's also to partner with them to drive the adoption of the right technologies. This is their fight too.

End user:

We must support every user's learning and change journey so that they can grow personally and exemplify the change.

Addressing each of these unique needs is critical and--although you can do them in parallel--it's important to be very purposeful in what you are trying to help your users do.

For example: It's common for IT teams to provide training for an executive and assume that they will tell everyone on their team to adopt this new way of working, only to be disappointed. In many cases, it's best to separate your efforts and spend dedicated time helping leaders understand the change and how to lead the change.

 

Recommendations

Specific mechanisms aside, here are some things we recommend you focus on to help your leaders:

Organizational leader:

  • Spend time clarifying how the change supports leadership goals. Along the way, build buy-in, excitement, and support.
  • Teach org leaders their role in change ("talk the talk" - communicate/evangelize/encourage the change frequently, and "walk the walk" - adopt the change themselves and model expected behavior, etc.).
  • Make leading the change as turnkey as possible. In other words, provide your leaders clear expectations, assignments, templates, and so on.

End user:

  • Help users identify what's in it for them to adopt the new technology - how does this benefit their own life?
  • Illustrate the tech's capabilities in their context and according to their needs - make training relevant.
  • Challenge and invite action on newfound knowledge - just because you know something, doesn't mean you do it. So make the jump to action as easy as possible.

At BrainStorm, we have some great options and solutions to help build strong change leaders and create scalable change. If you'd like to check them out, schedule a demo.

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