Introduction to Leadership in change processes
Leadership is one of my passions, and I think it’s because of the tremendous impact I’ve seen in organizations when they have true leaders, and when they don’t. Impact on the results, on other people and on myself.
I have experienced in first person, the transformation from being the most motivated person in the world, to seriously rethinking what I want to do with my professional life, and the reason has been, the leaders or non-leaders with whom I have had to work.
And as we can intuit those of us who have already a few decades behind us, a leader is born, but above all, he/she is made. As Simon Sinek says, we could all potentially be leaders, another thing is that we want or are prepared for it after understanding what leadership means.
As starting premises:
1.- A leader is to serve, not to be served.
2.- A leader is in charge of the people who are in charge of the tasks, not the other way around.
3.- A leader has to be willing to prioritize his/her team versus his/her personal interests.
What does Leadership mean?
It is really fascinating to see how the concept of leadership is completely transforming. I found a 2013 Forbes article where paradigms were changing and a leader is no longer related to being «the boss.»
• Peter Drucker: «The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.»
• Warren Bennis: «Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.»
• Bill Gates: «As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.»
• John Maxwell: «Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.»
In the article, Kevin Kruse defines leadership as: «Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.»
And he already perfectly defines that leading is NOT having a hierarchical position in an organization, which has nothing to do with «titles», with personal attributes or with management.
Now the trend is more:
- Oxford Leadership: «The world needs leadership with the right perspective and purpose – one that goes beyond profits»
- Simon Sinek: “Leader is someone who makes their employees feel safe, who draws people into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety — especially in an uneven economy — means taking on big responsibility
In just over 10 minutes, Simon Sinek tells the essence of leadership very well in this video. I recommend it to you!
- The Leadership circle: “We believe that the extraordinary ability of a leader arises from a more evolved level of consciousness. To update your «operating system».
- Mindful Leadership: A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion in the services of others.
(https://instituteformindfulleadership.org/about-the-institute/ or https://www.mindful.org/finding-the-space-to-lead-3/)
Only with these world leaders of leadership, we see the new elements that appear:
- Purpose (beyond benefits)
- Create a safe environment
- Take responsibility
- Be at the service of others
And if I had to distill the essence of what I understand by leadership, I would say that: “Leadership is to inspire and promote movement and transformation to achieve a purpose, through the growth and well-being of people in an environment of trust, enthusiasm and collaboration.»
What is the role of leadership in change processes?
As we saw in the article «Emotions in change processes«, people, in many processes of organizational change, go through a «grief process» where there is usually a lot of worry, fear, stress, anxiety, and especially when changes are not co-created, but imposed. We said in the previous article as well (communication in change processes) that communication is the most critical element in a change process, but leadership is the biggest challenge.
We need leaders who embrace a new leadership paradigm focused on people, their well-being, growth and being the most important vehicle of communication and cohesion, especially in processes of change.
It is necessary for team leaders to better understand people, their motivations, life purpose, concerns, doubts, problems, needs, etc.
By knowing each person, the leader will be able to better convey the vision of change, as well as help reduce the level of stress and concern during the process, solving doubts, clarifying the objectives and impacts, and even facilitating a change of team or role if necessary. necessary, or in general, adapting the communication style to what each person always needs.
And on the other hand, it is also essential that the leader facilitate the cohesion of teams so that there is a true sense of belonging, with clear and achievable objectives and facilitating everything that the team requires, as well as celebrating the successes achieved.
In change processes, especially if they are going to have a relevant impact on people, it is essential that the leader assume four roles: Inspirational, Coach, Mentor and Facilitator.
- Inspirational, because once the vision of change is defined, it must be inspiring and communicate with words close to the teams, it is very good that the members of the steering committee communicate, but they are very far from the teams, each team leader must “Translate” the Vision and objectives of the change in the most appropriate way for each team.
- Coach, because in every change process concern, uncertainty, doubts, fear, needs, stress arise … and the leader-coach must accompany people through all this so that they live it in the best possible way.
- Mentor, because his personal experience can help people who are more stuck.
- Facilitator, because he must achieve everything the team needs to navigate change in the most positive and successful way possible.
I firmly believe that success in change processes is impossible without a different leadership style.