Before the lockdown started, we were in the middle of writing up some of the interesting findings from the research interviews we had been doing with current and former CEO’s across private and public sectors about their experiences of leading change.  We wanted to test some of our own thinking about why culture change sometimes works and sometimes fails to get any traction.  From our own experience, we could see the critical role that the CEO plays in driving any change effort so we thought we would ask them first-hand for their experiences.  The themes that emerged gave us some fascinating insights into how successful leaders manage change through the people, behaviours, politics, systems and processes.  As well as their successes, they shared with us some very honest accounts of what went wrong and why -both are equally valuable.   We have distilled these interviews into 10 top tips for leading successful change which you can find below.

Although our interviews were before the pandemic, we feel that many of the words of wisdom are still very relevant as we emerge and have to deal with whatever the ‘new normal’ means for us and our organisations.

If you would like to read the full paper from which these top tips are distilled, you can find it here:  Claridade Change Leaders

10 Top Tips on being a successful change leader

  1. Be clear about why you want to make the change and what success will look and feel like to your customers/service users and employees.
  2. Make sure you have the Board (or equivalent) support you need.
  3. Acknowledge that you will make mistakes and that you may have to adapt and change as you go along – and that this is an inevitable part of change. You need to bring your self-confidence along with you.
  4. Recognise that you need to lead from the front and to spend a lot of time communicating at all levels but that does not mean that you need to do everything.
  5. Build a fabulous team around you who will challenge, work together and provide support to each other. HR needs to play a strategic change leadership role as part of the team whilst ensuring that the practical steps are also put in place.
  6. Invest in a professional approach to internal communications, recognising the vital role this has in creating alignment.
  7. Get the support you need, whether this is a coach or a mentor so that you can have some external support and challenge.
  8. Look after yourself mentally and physically – this is a lonely role.
  9. Get out into the business and walk the floor – employees will often tell you where you need to focus, and it helps to create joint ownership of change.
  10.  Have courage – take bold actions where needed, such as moving people on if they are not on board but do not leave your compassion behind in how you do it.

The research also produced our new "Crystal Clear Behaviours for Change" - a straightforward framework to help leaders self-assess against the lessons learned. If you would like a copy, please email [email protected].

Lesley Wilkin

Lesley has many years of experience as a global business leader/ board member and consultant in a major HR consultancy and prior to that as an HR director. Having moved from the corporate world to become an entrepreneur she is extremely excited about the opportunity to build a new and different type of business working with like-minded colleagues who have a passion for helping people to develop.