I believe leaders must be change agents because change is critical to business growth and success; it is not optional. As soon as we realize that change is required, those who want to succeed realize that it’s critical to develop the skills to deal with and lead through the change.
Being fully responsive to the needs of our customers, our teams, and our industry requires change management every day. Leading change requires our leaders and our teams to step into uncomfortable situations and do things differently. It is much more comfortable for teams not to change. Leading change is leading toward new ground, new ideas, and new opportunities while helping teams develop new thinking and new habits. Effective leaders need to acknowledge that it is hard for teams to feel competent when things are changing around them. Many, many times the leader’s job is to encourage, but also consistently require new skills to develop and make sure that individual development is a priority. It takes patience and consistency over a long period of time for our teams to understand that the changes are required and lasting.
As hard as it may be on certain days, leaders must also not allow themselves to focus internally very long. It is external focus that will create the wins and successes teams need, especially in the difficult times. Work to have all the tools and resources your teams need to succeed. Model the behaviors you want from your team. Keep a rigorous focus on your customers and your teams. Celebrate and thank your teams and your customers. They are the way forward and will lift you out of the trials of the moment. Focus forward all the time and help create the vision for the recovery.
Ultimately, you must work hard, show up every day, and do all you know to do. Lead from the front, and develop trusted relationships with your customers, your teams, and your bosses. Learn from your mistakes and don’t let mistakes keep you from making progress. There will be change throughout any career so don’t let it weigh you down. Embrace change as the true opportunity to make things better for your company and your teams.