Three Areas of Concern for Leaders During Times of Change

By Harvard Business Review
December 7, 2017

Be sure to communicate clearly and effectively about the goal of the desired change, and allot time so employees will recognize its importance.

Leaders are far more visible than they realize. This is especially important during times of strategic change, when followers are trying to make sense of a new “ask” from the organization, in the context of all the existing “asks” they’re already grappling with.

There are three main areas in which a leader may fail to communicate clearly and effectively in times of change:

Delivering the message. Too many followers tasked with bringing about change report that their leaders weren’t clear about what they wanted the change to achieve. It seems the reasons are twofold: Leaders too often express what they want in terms of tasks, not of outcomes; and they rarely make clear the full extent of the change they are seeking.

Personally living the change. This means much more than simply modeling any behaviors asked for; it also means making myriad decisions that support that change. It also means changing how the leader spends his or her time: If leaders are not allotting time to the change desired, followers will interpret the latest change as not really being important, and they will act accordingly.

Resourcing and measuring the change sought: How an organization spends its resources and what it chooses to measure are the final critical ways it signals what is important. A leader must allocate the right people, with the right level of seniority, experience and political connections, to work on the change. Leaders must make changes to what is measured, and make them early.

Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

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