Change Leadership?

We’ve all experienced change.  In fact, we lead and manage change everyday as project and program managers.  Anita Wotiz did a terrific blog on Practical Change Management last week that provided a framework on planning and tracking to insure that the change is completed and successful.

Let’s consider what environment we are in right now: significant economic and social changes that may touch everyone in some way, large or small.   Most of our projects and programs will also be affected in some way, so what do we do, as LEADERS?

by tx_mattster
by tx_mattster

What I’m going to cover this week are thoughts on Change Leadership or what you need to do when you are in a leadership role.   What is that “CHARACTER” that leadership comes from?  What does it “look” like?  How do Change Leaders behave?  And you realize that you are in a leadership role by being the project or program manager…  Raise your hand if you didn’t know that!

Here is a common situation: a really BIG change is happening.  The conditions  have changed such as:

  • New technical approach (but you’re almost done!)
  • Customer merges with another company (you’ve got a new customer relationship, requirements or budget!)
  • Company decides to change their market focus and subsequently their products (forget that widget, we need this one to stay competitive!)
  • Etc., etc., etc.

What do you do first?  Take a deep breadth and consider how the changes may affect you. Become comfortable with the change knowing that it is a temporary situation and become emotionally neutral. The change is not good or bad…it just is.  Find out the context of the change.  What are the new objectives and what is the reasoning for the change?  Budget, market needs, company priorities?

Consider next that you will be leading a team to STOP what took time and energy to start.   The team will be looking to YOU to provide DIRECTION as they move from knowing the end point to being in the unknown. It’s like hiking a mountain trail that you’ve done a few times and know that the end is the mountain peak.  A heavy fog comes in and someone changed the trail before you.  You know the end of road is somewhere ahead, but you don’t know if it’s the same peak or the parking lot.  You STOP to figure out the DIRECTION.

How do you provide direction to people that are nervous, worried, scared, (fill in the blank)?  SEE the end!  Confirm your vision with your project sponsor, manager, customer, and other stakeholders.   Are the project decision-makers aligned with the new objectives?  If yes, then half the battle is done.  If no, then the new requirements are not defined, so take the initiative to get them defined.  You need it…your team needs it.

What would you do first and what attitudes would you need to have to lead your team?


2 thoughts on “Change Leadership?”

  1. User Avatar

    Great post Terrie! My team just went through a massive change, the likes of which we are still trying to figure out all the implications of.

    It seems to me that having the team as engaged as possible in working through the path forward is another good step to take. The team will be less nervous over the long haul if they are able to be a part of figuring out the end state.

    Josh Nankivel

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