You’re ready to grow your business. You’ve honed your craft, built your team, and prepared for scaling. But rather than a quick spike and decline, you are committed to achieving sustainable growth. In order to do that, you’ll need to master the art of change management.
The willingness to change is a vital component of evolving and remaining relevant. It is a healthy and tell-tale sign of a company poised for longevity and sustainable success. The ability of a company or business leader to successfully spearhead change speaks directly to culture.
Looking to leverage new technology? Explore how your company can effectively deploy AI? Adapt to customer needs and buying preferences? Take steps to make sure your company is contributing to the solution and not the problem of climate change? All of these require change, and specifically, change management.
How to Foster Successful Change Management
Over the years, I’ve worked with dozens of clients personally, as well as had myriad conversations with business owners, CEOs, and consultants alike, around the topic of making change in a company.
Sometimes that “change” is described through the lens of getting more business. In fact, most of the time that is how “we need change” is expressed. Or even, “we’re looking for ideas” on how to grow.
Here’s the punch line I’ve discovered.
Many companies want change, right up until the moment it’s time to actually make a change. Several factors can help or deter the success of any change campaign, sometimes before it even gets started.
Let’s take a look at what those factors are.
- Leadership. Change management begins with us and how we choose to lead our teams. It’s the one component that all business owners have the most control over.
- Relationships. Your relationships with your stakeholders will impact your ability to drive change over time.
- Integrity. The ability to live, work, and lead from your values.
- Communication. Good communication is paramount in any organization, but that’s especially true in the midst of change – whatever season your business is in.
- Responsibility. Each stakeholder, from leadership to team members, must take personal responsibility for their part in championing successful change.
- Creativity. Along with flexibility, creativity, and open-mindedness can lend themselves to productive ideas that help to inspire successful change.
- Collaboration. The ability to work well together through change is absolutely essential – you must collaborate!
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into two top factors that influence change management: leadership and relationships.
Developing leadership skills is one of the most overlooked necessities for most business owners. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your skills are adequate because, after all, look at the success you’ve created.
The reality is that as our organizations grow, our skill sets need to broaden, too. For many, the ability to delegate and allow others in our organizations to step into leadership roles – and to actually lead – is where we fall down. We end up being bottlenecks and inhibiting growth, innovation, and enthusiasm among our teams.
Effective leadership requires self-awareness, humility, flexibility, and patience. Surely there are countless leadership frameworks and methodologies, but they must be built upon a solid foundation and that begins with looking in the mirror.
Our willingness to own our shortcomings coupled with the desire and commitment to improve can have the greatest impact on our success as a leader. Contrary to common belief, conveying humility in leadership helps to disarm resistance and garner support.
This can mean admitting when we make mistakes as well as asking for and accepting feedback. Demonstrating this behavior as a leader allows our teams to feel at ease and confident to explore new ideas without the fear of backlash.
Ultimately, managing change sustainably with the future in mind means acting with integrity now and refusing to cut corners in order to get there. We need alignment with our teams to make sure decisions and actions are congruent with our long-term objectives. This is why leadership and culture are the best indicators of sustainable success.
The recipe for navigating change and achieving sustainable growth involves an orchestrated harmony between the business and its stakeholders – in other words, its relationships. These relationships don’t just encompass customers, clients, and employees but all stakeholders.
Successfully managing and nurturing all of these relationships requires strategy, agility, communication, integrity, data analysis, and tools. (Perhaps the easiest one to unpack is tools and technology, so…we’ll dive into that topic another day.)
By leading with integrity, business owners can proactively communicate values. We can demonstrate trustworthiness. This will let our stakeholders know that we mean it when we say something. Integrity breeds trust, and trust is foundational not only for healthy stakeholder relationships but for successful change management, too.
The reality of business involves change, often directly involving one or multiple stakeholder relationships. How we respond to change through our relationships can have long-term implications. For example, how would you handle if you’ve been working with a particular vendor for years but have discovered a better solution for your company’s needs moving forward? If your longtime, reliable manager is not performing to the level your company needs now, how will you address it?
How Fear and Complacency Impact the Ability to Change
The mere definition of change is to do something differently. In fact, that almost always means going beyond a comfort zone, and for some, it can ignite fear. For some leaders, fear can stifle change.
Sometimes, this fear stems from not knowing everything or having all the answers. Even if things are not working as they once did or to the level needed, some leaders prefer to stay with what is comfortable and cling to business as usual.
Having a fear-based mentality or allowing little space to explore new ideas can upend an organization’s quest to adapt to change.
Complacency can create just as many roadblocks to change as fear. Organizations with leadership run on complacency tend to have a more difficult time getting any traction with change-based initiatives. That’s because business as usual appears to be working, and they often see no need to change until there’s urgency – or an emergency.
Fear and complacency are especially detrimental when a company continues to pursue change campaigns. If leadership is ill-positioned or resistant to change, the likelihood of any campaign succeeding is negligible.
Oftentimes, we don’t recognize fear or complacency in ourselves or our leadership styles. Instead, we may see those attributes as strengths. We may feel overly confident in what we’re doing today, and how we’re doing it, based on successes we’ve had in the past. The same results can occur when we view our current team through the lens of their previous performance.
Impactiv8: An Example of Fearless Change Management
Effective change management is crucial in times of abundance and uncertainty. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the consulting agency, Impactiv8 met its unprecedented demands and limitations with both integrity and a firm grip on change management.
Impactiv8’s coworking space quickly became obsolete due to the COVID lockdowns. Instead, their leadership team was able to identify and create opportunities that would continue to serve their company’s vision.
Rather than providing entrepreneurs with a physical space to work, they pivoted their offering to provide online training and coaching to entrepreneurs and small business owners, to enable them to weather the pandemic storm.
Their results were astounding; they were able to serve 1,122 small business owners by providing over 7,312 hours of digital marketing coaching and training online. As a result of their work, they helped save countless businesses from closing down, and in other cases, scaled many businesses to $100,000+ months.
It’s Time to Embrace Change Management
Now that you understand the important components involved in successful change management, it’s time to start thinking about how to more fully embrace change.
- Start by evaluating your leadership style and skill set, the strength of your relationships, and whether you’re operating with full integrity.
- Are there adjustments you’d like to make? Are there changes you need to make in how your company meets challenges?
If you’re interested in exploring leadership coaching and training, check out this resource-rich thread on LinkedIn.