How To Create An Environment For Change: Self-development Questions Great Leaders Ask Themselves
By Don Holley, Managing Director & Transformation Practice Lead
What do Captain Jack Sparrow and change leaders have in common?
No, it’s not the eye makeup. It’s to do with navigating the seas of change.
In stormy weather, the captain of the ship must pull himself together and get his crew to pull together. Otherwise the ship will end up on the rocks. It’s the same with your change strategy.
You must create a cohesive team environment in times of change and exhibit strong leadership, otherwise you’ll all be heading down to Davy Jones’ Locker. Either that, or you’ll have mutiny on your hands.
Your change strategy thrives (or rots) from the change leader down.
That might sound dramatic, but actually it’s true. And as a leader of change, self-awareness and self-leadership are critical to creating the right environment for success.
Creating an environment for change
It is sometimes uncomfortable to step back and reflect on the environment you create as a leader. However it is essential to understand your impact. This is because people experience you from your behaviour and your actions, not your intentions, thoughts, or feelings.
Douglas McGregor proposed that “the attitudes of managers flow through into their behaviours towards their direct reports and impacts the responses of their direct reports in turn.”
In times of business change, leaders are dealing with their own transition as well as that of their teams. This can make it difficult for leaders to recognise the impact they’re having on others.
Great leaders have the self-awareness and self-leadership to go beyond the difficulties they’re facing themselves, and understand their role in exacerbating their team’s situation.
Self-development questions great leaders ask themselves
To foster mutual confidence and respect, there are three fundamental questions you need to ask yourself. Your answers will drive the aspects of behaviour that underpin the relationship you have with your team:
1. Where do you place your attention?
Your behaviour is the clearest guide that your direct reports have about what’s important and what’s not. Inconsistency causes confusion, which leads to inefficiency, uncertainty and reduced morale.
2. What / how do you reward and discourage?
Productive workplaces are those where there is generous use of subtle encouragements (like showing appreciation and support) in response to strong social and self-esteem needs of direct reports.
3. How do you treat people EVERY day?
Do you have a personal demeanour that indicates respect, emotional self-leadership and sound judgement in your professional interaction with others, regardless of your personal feelings?
(Adapted from: Dr Judith Chapman)
As a leader of change, investigate these questions with yourself honestly. Self-awareness and self-leadership are critical to creating the right environment for successful change. Leaders need to be open to receiving constructive feedback, for their own development and the team’s benefit.
If you’re leading a team or organisation through a change project of any kind, let us know in the comments what underpins your team relationships. Is what you’re currently doing working for you?