Tag Archives: Organizational Change

Leading Change – People Matter

Leading Change – People Matter

This is not a new post but I thought it was worth re-posting because the message holds good for all time 

I’ve just seen an advert for a “change management lead” for a multi-national facilities management company – they provide everything from reception services to construction.  It asks for Prince2 (project management skills) and Six Sigma (improving the quality of process outputs) certification.  It mentions the enterprise management system used by the organisation and says the post-holder would be required to set up and document SLAs and define KPIs.  Sadly, beyond asking for the candidate to have strong interpersonal skills, the one thing it doesn’t mention is PEOPLE and leading people – this from a company in the heart of the services sector!

Makes you wonder doesn’t it?  If a services organisation doesn’t know enough about change to know that people, and the leadership of people, are at the heart of any change then we really do have a long way to go to spread the message! But something else strikes me as well!  If the applicant is required to lead change then this company doesn’t really know much about leadership either and that has much wider implications!

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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Leading and Managing Change – It Starts With One


INSEAD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leading and Managing Change – It Starts With One

All kinds of organizations, public and private , large and small, have been searching for decades for the holy grail of organizational change. They want to find the perfect way to motivate employees to change their old ways for what management (or consultants!) deem to be better, new ones.

This is a great video from the INSEAD (the Business School) channel on YouTube on changing the hearts and minds of individuals as a necessary precursor to organizational change.  The real engagement of individuals is key to success in organizational change

Hal Gregersen is a Senior Affiliate Professor of Leadership at INSEAD where he pursues his vocation of executive teaching, coaching, consulting, and research by exploring how leaders in business, government, and society discover provocative new ideas, develop the human and organizational capacity to realize those ideas, and ultimately deliver positive, powerful results.

Stewart Black is the INSEAD Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour

You can find out more about INSEAD at this link http://www.insead.edu/home/

<Name Your Link

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In the early 20th century, psychologist Kurt Lewin identified three stages of change that are still the basis of many approaches today.


People like to feel safe, and in control,and their sense of identity is tied into their present environment; particularly if it has been relatively stable for a while!  This creates a feeling of comfort and any challenges to it, even those which may offer significant benefit, can cause discomfort. See why change hurts!

Talking about the future is rarely enough to move them from this ‘frozen’ state and significant work is usually required to ‘unfreeze’ them and get them moving.  In frustration some managers start using a Push method to get them moving – coercing them into a change.  This can create a lot of unhappiness and frustration.

The Pull method of leadership, persuasion and modeling behavior takes longer but has a better long-term effect . The term ‘change ready’ is often used to describe people who are “unfrozen” and ready to take the next step. Some people become ready for change fairly easily, whilst others take a long time to let go of their comfortable current realities.


For Lewin change is a journey.  This journey may not be that simple and the person may need to go through several stages of misunderstanding before they get to the other side.

A classic trap in change is for the leaders to spend months on their own personal journeys and then expect everyone else to cross the chasm in a single bound.

Transition takes time and needs leadership and support!   But sometimes  transition can also be a pleasant trap – it may feel better to travel hopefully than to arrive – particularly for the team leading the change.


At the other end of the journey, the final goal is to ‘refreeze’, putting down roots again and establishing the new place of stability – embedding new processes and developing a new culture.

In practice, refreezing may be a slow process as transitions seldom stop cleanly, but go more in fits and starts with a long tail of bits and pieces. There are good and bad things about this.

In modern organizations, this stage is often rather tentative as the next change may well be around the next corner. What is often encouraged, then, is more of a state of ‘slushiness’ where freezing is never really achieved (theoretically making the next unfreezing easier). The danger with this that many organizations have found is that people fall into a state of change shock, where they work at a low level of efficiency and effectiveness as they await the next change.

If  you are serious about being a better leader and doing your best in your career while having a good life at home, I think you will find our new programme interesting!   http://gettingtherewithwisewolf.com/

Wendy Mason is a career coach working mainly with managers and professionals who want to make that jump to senior level while maintaining a good work/life balance. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between face to face coaching, and coaching and blogging on-line. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

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The qualities of leadership – leading change!

Great Egret and turtles

Image by s3728 via Flickr

On the website of the US Office of Personnel Management I found a description of Executive Core Qualifications/Competencies.

This defines the competencies they believe are needed to build a federal corporate culture that drives for results, serves customers, and builds successful teams and coalitions within and outside the organization.

As you would expect I was particularly drawn to their description of what they consider to be the core competencies required to lead change.

They describe this as the ability to bring about strategic change, both within and outside the organization, to meet organizational goals.  This includes the ability to establish an organizational vision and to implement it in a continuously changing environment.

Here are the competencies;

  1. Creativity and Innovation
    1. Develops new insights into situations;
    2. Questions conventional approaches;
    3. Encourages new ideas and innovations;
    4. Designs and implements new or cutting edge programs/processes.
  2. External Awareness
    1. Understands and keeps up-to-date on local, national, and international policies and trends that affect the organization and shape stakeholders’ views;
    2. Is aware of the organization’s impact on the external environment.
  3. Flexibility
    1. Is open to change and new information;
    2. Rapidly adapts to new information, changing conditions, or unexpected obstacles.
  4. Resilience
    1. Deals effectively with pressure;
    2. Remains optimistic and persistent, even under adversity.
    3. Recovers quickly from setbacks  
  5. Strategic Thinking
    1. Formulates objectives and priorities, and implements plans consistent with the long-term interests of the organization in a global environment.
    2. Capitalizes on opportunities and manages risks
  6. Vision
    1. Takes a long-term view and builds a shared vision with others;
    2. Acts as a catalyst for organizational change.
    3. Influences others to translate vision into action.

This is great stuff. But then I realised something was missing in this description of “executive” competencies. Somewhere along the way   we seem to have lost sight of some of the essentials.  How about adding interpersonal skills, communication, integrity and a willingness to go on learning even at this stage in your corporate life?  Lose  them, oh mighty leader, and you lose yourself, your team and probably any chance at all of meaningful success!


Becoming A Leader Today – What to give up!

Whether you are new to leadership, or an established leader taking time out to reflect, it is worth considering your leadership style.  A summer break provides a great opportunity to contemplate lessons learned and the opportunities ahead.

What kind of leader would you like to be? Here are some thoughts on changes you might make and some things you might like to consider giving up!

  1. Give up talking down! Has your approach always been focused top-down with instructions flowing from the “top floor” to the rest of the organization?  Now is the time to go for a more collaborative approach!  Have you got the confidence to build discussion into your decision making process?  Try it and see whether you get more or less engagement from your team. Of course if it doesn’t work you can always revert, but I bet you won’t want to.
  2. Give up revolution and go for evolution.  If you want to change the team, try focusing on their strengths and build on them. You have a much better chance of getting the results you want if you start small and build on your successes rather than setting out to ‘rock everyone’s world.’
  3. Give up coercion and start changing from within. Stephen Covey states in his change theory that ‘change occurs on a broken front.’  Not everyone on your team will be where you are and some may not want to change at all. Start with those who are likely to come on board most easily and get them to change. Then help the change seep out to those who are less enthusiastic.  This is likely to be much more effective than forcing people to do something and then hitting a wall.
  4. Give up hypocrisy.  Model in yourself how you want people to be. If you expect people to make positive changes, they need to see it in you.  Set yourself as the example and be visible doing what you’ve asked others to do. You’d be surprised how good the human race is at imitation!
  5. Give up taking things for granted!  Make sure that as the ‘right’ things start happening, you recognize the efforts of those who have made it happen.  You’ll find that those who want recognition will work harder for more of it, and push others as well.

There are  other changes you may want to make in yourself as leader.  Give yourself some time for reflection and see what you come up with.  If you are an established leader and want to reflect on your approach in depth then try the mini-stocktake  you will find at this link .

Whichever approach you take, I’d love to hear about your results.
I am Wendy Mason and I work as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger.  I have worked with many different kinds of people going through personal  and career change. If you would like my help, please email me at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439.  I will be very pleased to hear from you. I offer half an hour’s free telephone coaching to readers of this blog who quote WW1 – email me to arrange.


Leading Change – do you have a great vision?

A great vision needs to be about the future but it will fail if it is not firmly rooted in the present. You may wish to change a group but you can’t ignore its history, culture and organization.  Most of all you need to make sure there is a connection to its values.

This is where those who are new to the organization sometimes come adrift when leading and managing change.  Even if you are trying to move existing values on, you cannot totally ignore them in your vision for the future.  Somehow in your change, those in the existing organization need to feel that their present values are being honoured.

Your vision needs to have roots but it needs to be future focussed and challenging – it needs to reflect and set high standards, and high ideals.  Make your vision something that people will want to live up to.  That means it will keep chins high when you hit the difficult patches!

Your vision should inspire – you want it to raise enthusiasm and commitment. It is much more likely to do that if it touches the needs and aspirations of all those who have a stake in it.  This includes not only those inside the organization but also clients, customers, users and, if possible, your suppliers.

Make sure your vision can be understood – communicate it well.  Make it clear and unambiguous! Paint pictures when you talk about it that people can take away and imagine for themselves.  Make this a future they can see in their minds and want to be a part of.

Make your vision unique and distinctive – not to be confused with where we said we were going five years ago.  This must be special.

Above all make your vision ambitious!  Make sure that people can see that real progress will have been made when your vision is achieved.  This should be a vision that expands everyone’s horizons.

So to sum up your vision needs to be

  1. Appropriate to your history, culture and values
  2. Challenging with high standards and high ideals
  3. Inspirational
  4. Aspirational – reflecting the aspirations of all those with an interest
  5. Understandable
  6. Distinctive
  7. Ambitious

I’d love to hear you experience of working with visions – what has worked for you and what has not worked?

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439


Leading Change – deciding who leads!

Challenge kart

Last week I wrote about putting a group together to lead your change – creating a guiding coalition (Kotter Stage 3).

This group needs to include both managers and leaders and they will work together as a team.  The managers will keep the process under control while the leaders will drive the change.

A group with good managers but poor leaders is likely to produce plans but have no compelling vision. It will not communicate the need for change well enough for it to become meaningful –  it will control rather than empower people.

While a group that has all leaders and no managers is unlikely to be organized enough to create the short-term wins necessary to keep others on board for the long-haul – it will not sustain a change initiative.

You need a group that can convince people that change is necessary in the short term.  Then keep them actively engaged through-out the process, so that you can achieve the long-term goal.

Has your organization has been successful in the recent past?  Then if you look hard enough, you will probably find effective change leaders and managers throughout your organization!  You just have to find them.  They don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy.

If the organization has not been successful for a long time then you have a challenge.  You will need to seek out the good, work with the less good and, if possible, make sure the organization imports some capable fresh blood and embeds and empowers the individuals quickly.  This change will require a very experienced change facilitator fully backed by the top team

To lead and manage  change, you need to bring together a group whose power comes from a variety of sources including; job title, status, expertise, political importance and, just sometimes, sheer force of personality, in other words, charisma!

How to put a group together in four (not always easy) steps:

  • Go out and find the true leaders and strong managers in your organization.
  • Ask for an emotional commitment from these key people – explain to them why you need the change..
  • Work on team building within your change coalition.
  • Check your team for weak areas  and ensure that you have a good mix of people from different departments and different levels within your company.

I would welcome your thoughts on this and, of course,  I am very happy to answer your questions

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Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you.  Email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)7867681439