3 Tips for Leading Corporate Change

First in a series on Change Leadership

Machiavelli said “there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”  Smart man that Machiavelli!  If you’ve been in a leadership position for more than five minutes, you know how true this is.

A useful way to think of strategies for effective organizational change is the image of three rocks held together by a rubber band. The rocks represent the mind, body, and soul, respectively, of an organization. All three must move forward at the same time, or else the rubber band will snap back, stymieing progress and leaving you, at best, in the same position as when you started the change initiative.

The “mind” of an organization is its leadership. The leadership is defined as those making decisions, including but not limited to those “in charge” of the organization. There is leadership, in other words, at all levels of an organization. Leaders are the ones who are setting strategy and articulating a vision and direction.

The “body” of an organization consists of the key components of the organization-the processes, the structure, and even the finances of the organization. The body represents the moving parts of an organization.

The “soul” of an organization, informing both the mind and the body, is the corporate culture-what is accepted in an organization, a kind of code of ethics.

Any growth strategy has to move all three of these elements in unison (or close to it) if it is to be successful in the long run.

Keeping in mind the metaphor of the rocks held together by a rubber band is a simple way to think of change leadership.  It is also a reminder of the challenges of leading a successful change effort.  Every transformational initiative represents change and since change is the only constant in business, learning to effectively lead the change is the only way to ensure survival.

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