In addition to technological innovation the speed of change is rampant. Just as soon as you may learn a new technology you are investigating an upgrade or bringing in brand new technologies. We may get to a point where we think we are now on top of our workload or our business and our competitor comes up with something that leaves our company in the dust.
Rather than fear the changes being thrust upon us we need to be champions of change, leaders of change and we must focus on what we can control.
As leaders we can control intention, our skills, and how we lead others.
So how can we/you be the change leaders that are needed to be future ready?
Here are 3 strategies to lead the changes needed to be future of work ready:
- Leaders need to build mental flexibility The cognition needed to be ‘on the ball’ with rapid change includes having a flexible mindset. A CEO consulting client of mine has me on retainer and I come in to her company every month to meet one on one and coach her team. She has a team of eighteen people. After I meet with her team I have a debrief session with her to go over the opportunities available for her and for the company. At one debrief session she was very upset by some of the suggestions I was making around profit sharing and employee incentives. She felt she was already generous and that the ‘team’ needed to be grateful. I empathized with her position and gave her the pros and cons of keeping things the same versus making some minor adjustments that would go a long way for employee motivation and retention. I told her to sleep on it. She did and within 24 hours decided to overhaul the pay and bonus structure. This CEO demonstrated flexible mindset – rather than rigidly protect her position she was able to view the situation from multiple angles and then make a decision based on her ultimate goals rather than her fixed position.
- Review all systems and processes. There are many companies right now who are using policies and procedures that were created decades ago to treat modern customer challenges. Those companies are finding it difficult to retain customer loyalty and are struggling to remain relevant to a rapidly changing customer base. The opportunity is for leaders and teams to review the systems and processes to ensure they meet the goals of the company. For example a client of mine stated that they wanted to be the ‘provider of choice’ for technological services to their market. I challenged them that if that is ultimately their goal why are their customer service policies not in alignment with that goal? To be a provider of choice is a high goal and includes ensuring phenomenal customer service delivery. I encouraged my client to review their customer processes through the eyes of the customer. The held customer focus groups, they bought services from their competitors to see how the competitor handled certain scenarios and they held brainstorming meetings to come up with creative ways to handle common customer complaints. Rapid change requires rapid innovation to real time problems.
- Engage the team in change rather than push change on them. Too often leaders will decide on changes that are needed and then ‘command’ the mid level leaders or the teams to ‘make it so’. This is old style leadership. Current and future leadership requires the ability to engage teams in the changes BEFORE telling them they HAVE to change. A client of mine in the healthcare industry recently informed me that he had completed his mission, vision and values and sent them to me because he was proud of the fact they had finally created them. I asked him if the entire team had been engaged in the creation of the mission, vision and values. He replied that no he and his office manager had created them. I let him know that while creating these items was indeed an accomplishment there would be little or no effect when he shared them with his team. The reason? Telling the team is very different than having the team be a part of the process. The team that is involved in the process of creating processes or systems have ownership and they integrate what they help to create.
Regardless of what level you are in the company you are able to influence the company through your flexible mindset, through creative solutions for systems and processes improvement and through engaging your team mates in changes.
Cheryl Cran is the author of 6 books including “The Art of Change Leadership – Driving Transformation in a Fast Paced World” and “101 Ways to Make Generations X, Y and Zoomers Happy at Work”. She is an in demand keynote speaker on future of work, change leadership and helping leaders to be future of work ready. Read more of Cheryl’s blog posts here.