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How to Lead Change – A 10 Step Checklist

One of the key skills of effective leaders is the ability to create and lead change. When change is completed effectively the organization adapts and learns, and achieves its goals. However all too often change efforts fail as they are met with resistance and fear. Change can be as minor as relocation to a different office or as major as rapid growth or downsizing. This checklist details the steps to take to prepare for and lead effective change.

1. Create a clear vision. Define where you want to be. Do the work necessary to  fully believe in and commit to the change.

2. Build a case for change. State where are you now. State where you need to be. Present the facts as a clear compelling reason for change. You must build excitement for the future in order to overcome the discomfort created by change. Build commitment and awareness of the need for change, and gain agreement for your vision of the future.

3. Build a powerful guiding coalition. Identify who you need as sponsors of your plan and gain commitment to the change effort by communicating your compelling case for change. Think together about alternative strategies to achieve the change, create transition plans, think about how you will overcome barriers. Assemble groups with enough power to lead the change effort, working together as a team.

4. Communicate and Operationalize. With your sponsors communicate the progress you have made and the ongoing transition plans, widely.  Make sure that each person fully understands their role in the change process and feels appreciated for their contribution.

5. Make sure you have the right players.  Hire people that are open to learning. Support them with the training and resources that are needed.

6. Encourage constant open communication. Regular communication is vital to the change process.  Feedback needs to be ongoing in all directions – up, down and across.

7. Encourage risk taking and brainstorming. Respect differences and test out new ideas and methods. Keep what works and let go of what doesn’t.

8. Sustain your belief in the change effort.  Believe in the change effort and communicate that belief with your actions and words.

9. Be prepared for the normal emotional reactions to change. Change can create instability, anxiety,  conflict, nostalgia for the past, and fear of the unknown. Help people move through these responses by expressing empathy and using a coaching leadership style.

10. Celebrate success. Acknowledge short term gains and communicate the connection between new behaviors and corporate success.

By Doris Kovic, Business and Executive Coach of Leading Insight.

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