Change Leadership: Engage People Toward A Common Purpose

Effective change leadership in any organization must master three realms of personal awareness and expression — what we call Head (enabling people to think differently), Hands (organizing people to do work together), and Heart (engaging people toward a common purpose). This post focuses on how to engage people toward a common purpose.

Change Leadership is About Relationships

Activating people to believe in the common purpose within organizational change requires leaders to engage them in ways that make it safe to learn, and even to fail. As a change leader, there are no soft skills — only essential skills. Four of the most essential are:

  1. Foster psychological safety — create an environment where employees feel comfortable by modeling and building effective relationships
  2. Create intentional climate — it’s your job to create a climate of intention that elevates both hope and consequences.
  3. Lean in — leaders must lean in, and be emotionally present for the crucial conversations that naturally occur in times of stress.
  4. Recognize contribution — leverage the power of appreciation by recognizing contributions that can multiply effectiveness across the organization.

Creating A Climate For Change

Creating an environment that will inspire change in the workplace depends on a few key leadership practices. Leaders must cultivate awareness of the self and of others, as well as demonstrate and encourage empathy and compassion. Leaders will be most effective when they show up with same authenticity they expect from employees. An effective change leader also nurtures high expectations.

Developing People’s Commitment to Change

The optimal outcome for a change leader is engagement and examples that generate optimism and consequence in the workplace. A change leader should aim to take their employees from curiosity and skepticism, through the anxiety and fear that change can produce, and accept that once the changes have been implemented some will opt out, some will lean in, and some will simply comply. A change leader can do this by listening, understanding, and supporting.

For more insights on effective change leadership, read the other two parts of this series: Head (enabling people to think differently) and Hands (organizing people to do work together).