I read an article by David Lee on how leaders undermine their own change during the change management process. Prosci research showed that leaders are often unaware of their role in making the change successful. The research found that the difference between success and failure in change management almost always starts with leadership, so recognising the signs of poor change leadership is valuable. (“10 Ways Leaders Sabotage Their Own Change – CMC Partnership”)

Some of the ways they undermine the change can be attributed to:

 1. Not wanting to change themselves

What change management plans have worked in the past may not necessarily work in the future. This implies that the current change approach to leadership will require a change as well. If the leadership is not willing to look within themselves, if they fail to see that they need to change and be the champion of change, they are likely to create overwhelming barriers. (“10 Ways Leaders Sabotage Their Own Change”)

2. Treating change as a second job and the primary it is supposed to be

The leader has a day-to-day job, but he needs to be able to drive the change as well. They need to feel that driving change is their primary and, really, only role for the duration of the change.

3. Not sharing a vision

Many leaders are not visionaries and are often simply reacting to other external influences (competition, shareholder demands for recent technologies, etc.). Change requires a vision of a better future to build momentum, gain support, and make good decisions. The leader needs to share that vision. We all know that the HOW we are doing it changes continuously but let them see the future to ensure engaged and positive staff to assist you with the change process.

4. Not Understanding that change happens at an individual level.

Change happens at the individual level.  The leader’s role is to get everyone pointed in the same future vision. If they feel employees will change without understanding the “why?” of the situation or “how” they will benefit from the change, the leader has already created a wall that will be tough to get over.

5. Failure to support the change

Change intends to be moving forward to the future state. There will be challenges from internal and external stakeholders but if they cave into the resistance or undermine decisions once the destination is determined, they might as well end the effort right there. You need to get the buy-in from all stakeholders, engage and listen.

6. Knowing when to delegate responsibility

 Leaders need to lead the change. They cannot only set the goals and then delegate the responsibility for the change. Leaders tend to do this if they are unsure of whether the change will be sustainable. Find ways to empower the leader to lead, implement and follow up the change.

7. Analysis paralysis

 Analysis paralysis can be the death of change. This is when we are continuously planning, looking for the silver bullet answer. When this happens, it might be an indication that the leadership does not have a proper vision and may be looking for reasons not to change.

8. Using the power of a coalition

Change management must be driven by a leader, but a coalition with the right stakeholders will determine the success. Organisations are made up of individual team members and this implies that managers, supervisors, and team members need to have the information, connectedness, engagement and authority to help coach each other.

9. Share all the information. Over communicate.

Ensure that you share everything the stakeholders need to know from the start. Share the vision and the broad outlines of how this will happen. If you cannot do this, red flags about the change need to go up. Either the leaders do not trust their employees to do the right thing, or they expect resistance because the change is not going to benefit the employees impacted.

10. Knee jerk reactions

If the change management plan is not working out, leaders tend to revert to what they know and what worked in the past. This is never a clever idea. You need to be so sure of the change, that you are willing to stick to it. This shows a lack of confidence in themselves, the organisation, and the change. Too many leaders cave in when they see the first sign of trouble whilst the rest of the organisation believed in the change course.

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