With so many change models out there to follow, why is organizational change still so difficult?  Why do some efforts succeed and similar efforts fail?

CCL researchers recently set out to answer those questions. They asked 148 leaders about a change they successfully navigated in the past 12 to 18 months. The researchers then chose 127 other leaders and asked them about an unsuccessful change effort that they were involved within the same time frame.

Through this analysis, 3 competencies repeatedly were seen in successful change initiatives – communication, collaboration, and commitment.

Researchers found that these 3 skills provide the necessary connection between the process part of change that models detail and the people part of change that can make or break its success.

Leading a change initiative? Make sure you incorporate these 3 key competencies for success:

Infographic: 3 Key Competencies for Successful Change

1. Communication – Knowing what to say and how to say it to build and sustain commitment to the change.

While unsuccessful leaders had a tendency to focus on the what behind the change, successful leaders focused on communicating the what and the why.

The why is critical and focuses on the purpose behind the change effort. Leaders who connected the change to the values of the organization or explained the benefits behind the change were more successful at achieving buy-in and creating a sense of urgency, both of which contribute to successful change outcomes.

2. Collaboration – Bringing people together to plan and execute the change.

Leaders of successful change built teams, worked across boundaries and encouraged employees to take on responsibilities and tackle challenges.

They also encouraged employees to break out of their individual silos, refused to tolerate competition and included their employees in creating solutions and ideas on implementing the change.

These leaders included employees early on in the decision-making process and described employees as having a high level of buy-in and can-do attitudes.

3. Commitment – Changing yourself in service of the change goal.

Changing yourself means recognizing when your beliefs, approaches, and behaviors need to shift based on the effort you are leading.

One of the frequently mentioned approaches shared by leaders of successful change was displaying a positive attitude and enthusiasm toward the change.

These leaders were resilient, didn’t give up in the face of adversity or opposition, and stepped out of their comfort zone. They became role models to the rest of the organization with their ambition, efficiency and positive mindset.

For more information, download the free white paper, Change-Capable Leadership: the Real Power Propelling Successful Change by CCL researchers Shannon Bendixen, Michael Campbell, Corey Criswell, and Roland Smith.

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