Leaders are constantly navigating decisions and actions that are critical to the well-being of a project, situation, and/or organization. The importance of these decisions and actions becomes even greater when significant change is occurring, or must occur. In addition, the way in which leaders navigate change can mean the difference between success and failure. Ultimately, leaders must be very vigilant and deliberate in successfully navigating change, and in maintaining the morale of his/her followers.
Some of the most important skills/characteristics great leaders must possess and demonstrate during times of change are:
1. Evaluation and Strategic Planning
A great leader must be able to evaluate complex situations with the goal of determining the best course of action to navigate difficult situations. Additionally, based on the results of the detailed evaluation of a situation, leaders must be able to plan strategically in a way that will chart a course for success.
Based on evaluation and strategic planning, a leader must craft a clear vision for moving forward and for maintaining the overall livelihood of the organization, or any project/situation.
3. Consensus Building
By definition, leaders have followers who, by most accounts, are the lifeblood of an organization since these followers perform the majority of the everyday functions in an organization. So, once a leader has developed a vision, followers and other stakeholders must be convinced by the leader, that the course of action is good for the organization, and good for them on an individual basis as well.
4. Strategy Execution
Having a vision, strategic plan, and having your followers/stakeholders on board with the plans are not enough. Leaders must have keen abilities to effectively execute their plans and strategies.
5. Agile Ability to Pivot
Leaders ultimately won’t always make the right decisions every time. So, great leaders must be able to see that a bad decision has been made, and then they must be able to quickly re-run their evaluation, strategic planning, and vision development steps, in order to adjust how the organization will adapt to change. Ultimately, this is a strategic pivot. Some leaders are too prideful to admit that a bad decision was made, and oftentimes the leader is unwilling to pivot. It should go without saying that such leaders will not navigate to change well, if at all.
6. Communication and Transparency
Stakeholders want to know what’s going on in an organization. Lack of communication and transparency causes stakeholders to distrust their leaders. As such, leaders need to openly communicate their plans and actions that will be used to navigate change.
Leaders must be effective, sincere, and honest communicators to maintain the trust of stakeholders. Communication speaks to the heart of the integrity and honesty of a leader. Great leaders deliver a consistent and transparent message to all stakeholders, rather than tailoring a message to what a group of stakeholders want to hear.
Ineffective leaders share one message with a certain group of stakeholders and another version of the message to a different group of stakeholders.
We are all leaders to certain levels, and we all navigate change routinely. Some change is obviously more drastic, and perhaps more important than others. For example, changing suppliers or distributors for your company is very different than the change that must occur to navigate a business through a multimillion-dollar reduction in operating costs.
Nonetheless, no matter the size of change that must occur, the skills/characteristics above help great leaders ensure that their project, situation and/or organization, will be well positioned for change. Without these skills, and if change is not appropriately managed, stakeholders will abandon the leader, and the organization will not survive.
Seek opportunities that will allow you to hone these skills for yourself. Find a great leader that can be your mentor who is willing to teach and train you on these skills. Be a great leader.
Nathan Vanderford has a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural biotechnology, an MBA with an operations management focus, and a PhD in biochemistry. You can learn more about Nathan at www.nathanvanderford.com.
*Publisher’s Note:This article originally appeared here on Integrative Academic Solutions’ blog.