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How Effective Leadership Can Help Your Company Adapt to Change [Expert Interview]

December 9, 2016

effective-leadership.jpg"Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." – John F. Kennedy

We are all aware that change is inevitable and that adapting to change is key to success for organizations and people alike. When change happens within an organization, effective leadership is needed for a successful transition. Change can be as simple as the restructuring of a small workgroup to as large as a merger.

Recently I sat down with a Senior Consultant in the Organizational Change Management and Business Analysis/Process Design, Jamie, MLHR, to discuss the importance of effective leadership during times of change. We also discussed the importance and role of coaching during large-scale changes.

Related: What You Need to Know When Identifying High Potential Talent: An Expert Interview

Jamie has over 10 years of experience in change management where she led the efforts for large transformational initiatives. She has also delivered Prosci training and developed a standard set of best practices for change leaders. In addition, she has experience in improvement as a certified Six Sigma Green Belt professional. Below is a short summary of our conversation.

What are some key competencies that you assess within leaders that lead to successful change?

There are 4 main competencies that we look to identify in leaders:

1) ADAPTABILITY: Are they willing to accept the change?

2) EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION: Do they encourage discussions with employees about what is happening.

3) MANAGING EMPLOYEES THROUGH THE TRANSITION: Are they identifying any resistance and mentoring employees to adapt to the change?

4) REINFORCE and CELEBRATE SUCCESS: Do they recognize those employees who contribute to successful change.

Once you assess the leaders on these competencies, what do you do with the results?

Once we get the results, then we develop a sponsor plan for the leader. For those (managers) who need coaching, guidance, training, etc., we deliver it. For those who are already capable, we use them as an influencer to model behavior for other sponsors or to be a leader on influencing employees.

Why is it important that leaders have those capabilities/competencies for change?

The biggest obstacle to success is when leaders are not aligning other leaders around the change. The company culture begins at the top. If leaders aren't a good representation, it creates fear, disruption, and resistance. Good leaders make sure their employees are aware of the change and how it will impact them directly.

This interview provides a real-life situation to the value of assessing leaders on their capabilities and developing or coaching them to be more effective. Although this is a very specific event that can occur within an organization, effective leaders are not isolated to only change processes success. It’s clear that it is important for organizations to invest time and energy into ensuring that we are selecting, developing, retaining, and engaging leaders who support change initiatives.

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Jessica Petor Jessica Petor is a Research Analyst located at PSI's Pittsburgh office. She holds a Master's of Science degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Northern Kentucky University.