Updated: Oct 21
Which one of the following standpoints does your leader adopt during change implementation? It is a pivotal question that can determine the success or failure of an organisational change initiative. Leaders who choose to be “Effective and Proactive” in their approach are highly likely to drive positive outcomes, while those who lean towards being “Indifferent Delegators” or “Silo Focused” may inadvertently sabotage the change process. In this blog, we delve into these leadership standpoints during organisational change implementation and their profound impact on the results.
"Successful change needs effective and proactive change leadership, leaders who are indifferent delegators or silo focused must be aligned or change implementation will fail"
Leadership involvement in organisation change or transformation can be measured on a spectrum from energised and passionate involvement through to abdication. Three typical standpoints are:
Effective and Proactive
Organisational change leadership is about effectively and proactively articulating the vision, modelling the new way, and intervening to ensure sustainable change. Until recently, an organisational leader or manager could just focus on normal day-to-day operations, handing off change management and implementation responsibilities to other people. Organisational change management, transformation, and improvement have become permanent features of the business landscape. Leading change can be one of the most difficult burdens of a leader’s role, but shareholders of organisations are now starting to demand that the leaders have Leadership of Change® capability. Without effective and proactive change leadership, it is unlikely the organisation will be able to successfully implement organisational change to ensure a return on investment, full employee change adoption, and sustainable change. There are three critical change leadership responsibilities:
Articulating a compelling change vision that inspires employees.
Modelling the new way of working and behaving.
Intervening respectfully to ensure sustainable change.
“Organisational change leadership is about effectively and proactively articulating the vision, modelling the new way and intervening to ensure sustainable change”
This is when the leader tries to delegate change leadership responsibility to a direct report during change implementation. They appear to support the change programme while remaining fully focused on normal day-to-day operations. Many great leaders will tell you that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility. A leader who is an indifferent delegator makes it very difficult for the change team or organisation to achieve full organisational change adoption because they are effectively resisting change. Typical traits of the indifferent delegator leader are:
Delegates change leadership responsibility to a direct report.
Appears to be supporting the change programme.
Remains fully focused on normal day-to-day operations.
“The change leader cannot be an indifferent delegator, they can delegate authority, but they cannot delegate responsibility. If they do, change implementation will fail”
Silos are formed when the leader of a department and its employees develop more loyalty to a specific group than to the wider organisation. They lose sight of the overarching goal of organisational success and instead focus on departmental goals. Lack of intervention from other leaders (and the sheep that follow them) allows this to happen. The narcissistic and deluded leaders that create these silos damage and corrupt the organisation. The CEO and other members of the leadership recognise the importance of breaking down silos to help employees collaborate across boundaries, but they usually fail to intervene. For the change to be successful, organisational silos must be eradicated quickly and ruthlessly. This is one change sponsor task that cannot be delayed or evaded. Typical traits of the silo focused leader are:
More loyalty to a specific group/department.
Does not share critical resources with the change team.
Loses sight of the overarching goal of organisational success.
“Change implementation cannot afford the luxury of organisation silos, the leaders that create them or the behaviour that tolerates them”
In conclusion, the leadership standpoint during change implementation is a critical factor in determining the success of organisational change. Effective and proactive leaders, Articulate a compelling change vision that inspires employees, they Model the new way of working including behaviour, and they Intervene respectfully to ensure sustainable change. In contrast, indifferent delegators and silo-focused leaders risk derailing the change process. Effective change leadership is about inspiring, guiding, and actively involving teams, not merely delegating tasks. The right leadership standpoint can be the catalyst for a successful transformation, while the wrong one can become a stumbling block to progress. Unfortunately, only one standpoint ensures change implementation success, maximises employee adoption, provides the targeted return on investment (ROI), benefits realisation, and sustainable change.
Further Reading: Change Management Leadership - Leadership of Change Volume 4
Peter consults, speaks, and writes on the Leadership of Change®.
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Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Guru, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Listed #1 by leadersHum Top 40 Change Management Gurus You Should Follow in 2022 (Mar 2022).
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (2023-2022-2021-2020) by Thinkers360.
Ranked #1 Business Strategy Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Business Strategy (2022) by Thinkers360.
Ranked #2 Leadership Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Leadership (Aug 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking
Change Management Behaviour - Leadership of Change® Volume 6, listed among the 50 Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2022.
Change Management Adoption - Leadership of Change® Volume 5, listed among year-to-date’s (Jul 2021) most popular books on business and technology from Thinkers360 member thought leaders.
Change Management Handbook - Leadership of Change® Volume 3, listed among the 50 Business and Technology Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2021.
Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.