A definition for Change Leadership we can find is: “ability to influence and enthuse others through personal advocacy, vision and drive, and to access resources to build a solid platform for change” (Higgs and Rowland, 2000). Leadership is often viewed as key to successful change (American Management Association, 1994).
Traits of a Change Leader
We are currently living in a fast-paced society which is affecting on the management roles, competencies and behaviours needed. Managers need to be, now more than ever, leaders who are able to deal with teams which are not used to fast-paced environments and whose members show difficulties in adapting theirselves to their teams or managers, not used to new tasks, to being oriented to results and customers, to having new responsibilities, to work under standardized environments (they may think that they loose power as information about the process procedures is spread everywhere) or to being part of commitment-driven companies. The above are some of the difficulties they may encounter.
Some of the features or traits that this leaders may endorse to overcome the arduousness of today’s leadership could be the following:
- Enabling and facilitating internal communication: effective and transparent communication is the key to gain confidence and strive your team to the operational excellence.
- Establishing contact with all the team members: when leading a team you should not forget about anyone who is involved in it, otherwise, it will create loud noise which would be difficult to stop.
- Being able to listen and not underestimating the team members’ issues: as stated before, communication is the key to gain confidence within a team. Active listening is part of the effective communication and means trying to understand the interlocutor’s speech, put yourself in their place and understanding their context before giving any answer.
- Being always present when a problem arise and take part of the solution as a consultant leader: for problems which exceed the decision capacity of your team or even problems which are on the scope of your team but are delicate, the presence of the team leader is a must to lead by example.
- Creating and implementing assessment and development systems for their teams: knowing where you are, knowing what they expect from me, what I expect from them and which will be my reward on a short/mid/long-term is needed to create a good atmosphere at work and boost motivation.
- Giving feedback as a common communication tool: feedback has to be included within the previous point in the assessment and development program for employees. However, on a more informal way, leaders could give feedback, both positive and negative anytime there is an accomplishment or improvement opportunities detected.
- Understand that within the team there can be different generations with their different visions and needs (X generation, Millennials, Baby Boomers): this point is also interesting enough to be included within the assessment and development programs. All the generations currently coexisting have lived different stages in which the education, culture, tradition, technology, needs, economy or politics have been internalized in a different way and, that is why, their needs differ. Therefore, targets, working conditions and other attributes could be adapted for each generation.
- Collaboration. Bringing people together to prepare the planning, execution and follow-up of change is critical.