For us, change leadership is not some sort of mystical innate talent. We have helped many executive teams successfully mobilise their organisation and realise fundamental changes. And that is not something airy fairy. It is just a matter of personal engagement and doing the right things right.
What does success look like for an organisation? For top management it usually looks like a number: profit, turnover, margin, market share.
But success means something different for staff. To them success is about achieving something that makes them proud. It is about beating the competition, about really making a difference for your customers, about building a wonderful reputation. These are the things staff are looking for in an inspiring vision.
The vision should also clarify HOW the ambition will be realised. There may be a clear strategic agenda, but what does it mean for staff? What needs to change? And what does it mean for the priorities in our everyday work? Staff don´t ask for facts or proof, they want leaders who are convinced of the road to success.
Usually members of the executive team represent different interests. And that’s fine, as long as they keep their discussions behind closed doors. But it can be a problem if the organisation learns that the highest management level does not agree on important issues. This not only affects their credibility, but also leaves people free to set their own priorities.
Alignment at the top is critical for realising fundamental change in an organisation. Essential differences in views cannot be ignored. They must be addressed and solved. This applies from the development of the vision and strategy all the way to the implementation process. Only a unified team with a consistent message will get people to move.
As the executive management, you cannot singlehandedly implement fundamental changes. It is important that senior managers in key positions commit to the vision and take responsibility for the change process.
Senior managers usually have plenty of room to set their own priorities. In fact that is usually what they are being paid for. Therefore it is crucial to invest time and energy in bringing your key people together, to build a strong leadership team that addresses the common priorities. Not just once, but on a regular basis. This way you will ensure that all key leaders remain aligned and speak with one voice.
Many directors and managers tend to strive for peace and calm in their organisation. To emphasise the achievements and successes rather than the errors and mistakes made. To always put a positive spin on situations and to play down difficulties.
This may be good to maintain a nice atmosphere, but it does not help to spark change. Sometimes it is necessary to shake up the organisation. To make people sit up and pay attention. To build up the pressure and to get people out of their comfort zone. Without a sense of urgency nobody gets moving.
In addition to strong leadership, good communication is essential to mobilise employees. Communication via managers ensures that everyone understands the vision and priorities and sees the relevance to their everyday work. Internal media can help build a common perception of what the vision means concretely and the change process this requires.
A lot of communication in any organisation goes unnoticed due to an overload of information and messages. Therefore it is important to communicate intensely, to coordinate messaging and create a platform that enables you to reach and touch people across the organisation.