The world is changing fast, and business has to constantly evolve to keep up. Organizations are always looking for new ways of doing business, new products, new innovations—it’s an important part of almost any successful business strategy.
Even with all its advantages, change requires some care to implement. One important factor, often neglected, is the need for leaders to coach their teams through times of change. Great leaders understand that people need support and guidance so they can adapt.
As an executive leadership coach, I’ve seen leaders who were reluctant to share information and guide people along the way—and the results were never good. The nature of change is disruption, and when people feel that change is something that’s happening to them rather than something they’re helping to create, they become defensive and fearful. It’s important to bring people on board and let them know they’ll continue to have a valuable role.
Here are the techniques used by the leaders I’ve seen do the best job of coaching their people through change:
Communicate frequently. When change is happening, one of the most important things you can do is communicate frequently and repeatedly. Don’t assume people know what is going on—tell them and keep them in the loop. Avoid sidebar conversations and gossip, and don’t accept them in the workplace. When people start to talk among themselves without solid information, the rumor mill takes over and you lose control of the message.
Tell a compelling story. As a leader, you need to tell a compelling story that explains the why for change, which in turn will lead naturally to the how. Remember that one of your top goals is to give people a context of meaning and purpose for the change.
Address fears. It’s important that you hear, understand and address the fears that people are experiencing and that you address the change from their perspective. Above all, they want to know what will happen to them and how their role will change. Try not to get frustrated with those who are resistant and fearful. Challenge preconceptions and assumptions and be supportive.
Lead with respect. Take the time to coach others with respect and help them through what they likely perceive as a challenging and intimidating situation. Pay close attention to people’s reactions at every stage. Respect their emotions as you communicate the change.
Understand to learn. The best leaders take time to understand why people feel the way they do. Don’t rush it—some people may not want to talk about their feelings at work. Others may be confused about their emotions. As their leader, be the coach you need to be to take to understand and to learn from them what they are going through.
Give a sense of purpose. The best leaders understand that for people to take risks, they need to connect to a clear vision. People need to understand how the future will look and how it will affect them. Once that is in place, focus on the individual’s strengths and goals and where they can fit with the organization’s shifting needs and priorities.
A great leader has the responsibility of also being a great coach. Coaching is a powerful tool for helping people understand and embrace change. It takes time and patience, but the investment pays off in the long term.
Lead from Within: Effective coaching through change will help people and keep them working together in a setting where everyone knows their role, responsibility and value they can bring to the company.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: iStock Photos
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.