What is required of leaders in times of change?

What is required of leaders in times of change?What is required of leaders in times of change?

I’m working on several great projects with clients on advanced analytics and Internet of Things. Some of the most common questions my clients ask are “What are the critical success factors in helping organizations successfully manage and use new technologies when things are changing so quickly? How do you lead in times of change?”

Today, I share several key ideas that help your organization get the best ROI on emerging technology implementations.

Leading in times of change requires leadership. Leadership is more than just being a strong leader. Organizations that are successful in fast changing times understand that leadership only takes you so far. Leaders need to know how to manage people and monitor the important activities in real time. Make sure you help your leaders become effective managers of people and resources.

Leading in times of change require your leaders to communicate on regular basis. It’s critical that people know why you have made this decision. Your communications must be clear and understandable from the manufacturing floor to the CFO’s office.  The most successful implementations I’ve worked on require an investment of time to help people understand both the tangible and intangible benefits the organization and individual receives.

Leading in times of change means you’re regularly communicating with all your external stakeholders and customers, as well. During these fast changing times you should build bridges to your many external stakeholders. Getting channel partners and suppliers on board gives you an opportunity to show how important these people are to your success. This helps build trust and involvement with your many partners and suppliers.

Leading in times of change requires leaders to be willing to act more quickly to reduce risk and seize new opportunities. One of the paradoxes I’ve seen is that productivity drops off even after a successful implementation. Learn how to be less reactive and more proactive in dealing with potential bottlenecks.

Many of these projects fail because they do not take into account the way that new technology impacts your organization’s culture. Any time you make changes to a business’ processes, it’s critical that you understand how it impacts the way you do business. It’s also critical to know how it changes the way people do their jobs.

It’s critical that you help your people see the bigger picture. I’ve found using a more facilitative style of leadership works well. Successful leaders should ask the people impacted how they would utilize this new technology. When asked, people who work with different customers can provide critical insights to how external stakeholders will be impacted by the change.

Leading in times of change requires acting on incomplete information. The more you know, the less you know. It’s critical to build an action bias into the new technology adoption cycle. One of the reasons pilot programs are a crucial aspect to implementing new technologies is they help identify potential bottlenecks and opportunities within your current systems. You find both, but you’ll never find all the information you need.

Leading in times of change requires additional time training and developing your people. You are making major changes in how your business operates. It’s critical you understand what skills are required to get the best results out of what you invest in. It’s critical that you are constantly training and developing people across the organization.

Today’s leaders need to be constantly improving their team’s skills and capabilities. Many times, we are asking people to do things they are not used to doing. You must show the flexibility at the beginning of the process. However, you must also become a better judge of people’s strengths and capabilities. You need to motivate people to be willing to change.

It’s not enough to say this is what you have to do, or else. To be a good leader in times of change, you not only need to inspire, you also need to make sure what you learn is transferred to where it needs to be to have impact. Make sure you capture the critical success factors so they can be implemented as your solutions are rolled out across the organization.

These ideas should help you become a stronger leader in times of change. Starting next week, I will do a series that talks about how you can leverage new technologies to grow a more profitable and successful business.  I’ll discuss how you can take advantage of it for your business and career.

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