What Makes A Great Change Leader?

In the whirlwind of today's volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) landscape, all leaders, regardless of their positions, have adopted the role of change drivers. Gone are the days when leaders could function in silos, devoid of acknowledging the swift pace of change. Whether an integral part of a Fortune 500 corporation, a middle-management executive or a budding entrepreneur, being the harbinger of change has become an indispensable aspect of your role. What really sets apart an effective change leader? Here are some key characteristics and strategies adopted by successful change leaders to guide their organizations through tumultuous transitions. 

**Seeing the Unseen – Visionary Leadership**

A prominent change leader adopts the role of a visionary, an individual with the extraordinary capability to spot emerging opportunities, foreseeing the horizon beyond the obvious. They are not just dreamers but realists who synchronise this foresight with the present capabilities and assets of the organization. However, having a vision is not restricted to illustrating an attractive prospect. It involves charting out a feasible and transparent roadmap, inspiring the team to navigate towards a shared and audacious vision. Intriguingly, a study by [Korn Ferry](https://www.kornferry.com/), after analyzing 150,000 leaders, discloses that a mere 15% of corporate leaders possess this forward-thinking mindset augmented with change-ready skills, highlighting the scarcity of such visionary leadership in managing transformation. 

**Centered Emotion: Emotional Intelligence**

It's not startling news that effective leaders should possess emotional intelligence. In fact, combined [research](https://www.talentsmart.com/) conducted by TalentSmart and Adam Grant has indicated emotional intelligence as a main determinant of success at the workplace. But, what role does emotional intelligence play in the realm of change leadership? Simply, it denotes the ability to comprehend, manage, and regulate one's own emotions, while skillfully engaging with others during uncertain periods brought about by change. 

Change invariably triggers emotional responses - shaking up comfort zones, and igniting feelings of uncertainty. Studies have shown that the emotional turmoil associated with workplace change can be equated to grief. The most successful change leaders are experts at deciphering emotional signals, predicting emotional responses and providing support, thereby transforming change from a period of anxiety to a remarkable, positive experience.

**Unyielding Spirit: Resilience and Resourcefulness**

Change is not always a linear process. It often encounters resistance and obstacles. Consequently, as per the [CEB Corporate Leadership Council](https://www.cebglobal.com/corporate-leadership-council/index.page), about one-third of significant change initiatives culminate in achieving their intended goals. 

Change leaders exhibiting resilience and resourcefulness stand out in such scenarios. These leaders are the pioneers in tackling adversity, exploring alternative routes when faced with roadblocks. The aura of confidence they radiate stems from a profound understanding of the change's purpose and their ability to convey this purpose so that it becomes a rallying cry. Their perception of change extends beyond a singular event; they view it as a process, consistently keeping the end goal in sight. 

**Empowerment at its Core**

[Gartner reports](https://www.gartner.com) a discrepancy: while 74% of leaders claim to consider employees' opinions while devising change strategies, only 42% of employees actually feel involved. This deviation often arises from leaders' fear of being overpowered with opinions or having to modify plans based on employee feedback. 

Great change leaders, however, willingly distribute power, realizing the potential of power to multiply influence. By entrusting the team with responsibility and authority, they create an environment where each person feels valued. This act of empowerment subsequently fosters leadership at every tier, preparing the team not only for accepting change but also actively participating in its execution. 

**Communication: The Key to Success**

Research indicates 38% of employees receive excessive communication, resulting in disengagement and poor decision making. Master communicators, the change leaders, understand this challenge. They are adept in delivering clear, concise, and context-specific messages, switching between board rooms, shop floors, and town hall meetings. Utilizing narratives is another tool they use, not as a distortion tool, but to establish emotional connections and common understandings.

**Strategizing for Effective Action**

The legacy of every change leader is built on a harmonizing act: blending visionary thinking with effective communication. However, achieving this balance remains elusive for many. A notable number of organizations face challenges in executing their strategies, a difficulty manifested in change management strategies as well. 

Successful change leaders are not just strategists but also tactical thinkers. They take major goals and break them down into manageable milestones, making effective use of their teams' capabilities. Setting SMART goals, followed by clearly accountable action plans, perpetual reviewing, and recalibration, they never lose sight of the final objective. 

Generating successful change in an organization calls for a blend of art and science  

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