Leadership, engaging or engaged ?

“It’s not just engaging others; it is equally as important to stay engaged yourself, particularly when leading major change.”

I found myself saying that recently to one of the directors of an organisation which launched a major change initiative just over eighteen months ago. The change was considerable, involving a change of leadership; of location; with new staff, many at senior level; and new ways of working.

Culturally such change was always going to be difficult. The attitude and behaviour of staff to any change, was always going to be challenging. Recent history bore the scars of a painful failure of leadership, to implement change effectively.

The simple fact is that change requires good leadership. Leadership which shares a clear vision of the future understands where they want the organisation to be. Leadership which has a clear and intelligent sense of what needs to be done to get there, and one which role models the the behaviours and values such a journey will need.

For the CEO this means not only being the catalyst of change; they should be the owner of the vision of the future. They need to be engaging and inspiring others to help co-create the strategies required to make it happen; but above all, they themselves must stay engaged.

All too often we see change initiatives fail because the executive fail to understand the time it takes for true cultural change to take effect. They move on to other things, in other directions; assuming that the reports, and busyness of the organisation means that everything is moving forward, in the right direction.

Leadership for change requires the Executive to be constantly visible; role-models of the future; leading by example; constantly taking stock.

The reality is that perhaps during this process the leaders need to look more closely than ever at themselves. Indeed perhaps they have to change themselves as much if not more than others.

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