Your leadership skills are rarely more critical than in moments of change. No matter how efficient your team may be at maintaining the usual work routine, change is when you need to be responsive, proactive, and provide guidance at the critical moment to help everyone make the transition smoothly – whatever that transition may be.
This is known as Change Management. If you hope to inspire your team to adapt quickly and confidently in times of change, you will need to hone your change management skills and leadership technique before the next big change occurs.
A leader who can implement change management is one who can guide their team through changes in technology, operational procedures, and sometimes even bigger changes like post-pandemic remote work or returning to the office. While you and your team may have mastered the pre-change routine, it will be your leadership skills they rely on when that routine is challenged. Community Resilience Initiative can help you achieve your potential to become the leader your team needs in times of change.
The 6 Facets of Change Management
Taking the lead during change management relies on six facets of management. Honing these specific skills can help you to be a better leader during times of change, providing your team the guidance, structure, and support they need to adapt to change quickly and effectively.
During times of change, communication is key. As the leader, you likely have the most information in regard to the nature of the change and the best methods for adapting to it. Being able to convey your thoughts and directives clearly in a way that provides your team with all the information they need is essential. Communicating in a manner that prepares the brain for action is even more important.
Your communication skills both in person and through written messages will equip your team with what they need to know moving forward. You may provide the reasons and circumstances of the change, the new tools or standards being implemented, and use clear communication to provide direction in how your team will tackle the transition together or through delegation.
2. Active Listening
It’s also important to listen actively to your team as changes occur. Active listening is a crucial skill in change management because it allows leaders to understand the concerns, fears, and resistance of employees to change. By understanding the neuroscience of active listening, leaders can better engage employees and facilitate a smoother change management process.
Active listening means both asking for feedback and listening to what your team is saying even when feedback is not directly requested. It is considering the meaning behind what you hear, not just hearing the words. This can help you identify team members who are struggling to understand the change or having difficulty with the steps required to implement the change at hand.
Active listening creates opportunities to provide additional guidance, clarity, and support when it is needed or to understand which team members can best help one another through this change by comprehending who is best equipped or best able to provide assistance during the transition process.
The illusion of knowledge or what CRI calls the misunderstood mechanism of knowledge is a cognitive bias where one overestimates their understanding of a subject or topic. This bias can be caused by how your brain processes information and can have significant implications in the change process. By being aware of their own limitations and actively researching additional information and perspectives, individuals can work to mitigate the illusion of knowledge and improve their ability to learn and grow.
You can also equip yourself more capably with sharpened research skills. There’s a good chance that whatever changes occur, you don’t yet have all the information that you could. Let’s say you are directed to change the software used in a critical team process. Being able to research that software and learn more about how it works will better prepare you to lead your team through adopting its use.
Research can help you bolster your own knowledge and resources so you can provide additional understanding and support to your team during times of change.
4. Strategic Thinking
Strategic thinking is the ability to break down the greater directive to change into individual steps and strategies. However, our brain’s sophisticated pattern detector can infer causes from sequential steps. If strategic decisions are based on false causal relationships, they may not effectively address the underlying issues or achieve the desired outcomes. This is a cognitive bias that CRI refers to this as the misunderstood mechanism of patters. When we understand how our brain infers causes from correlations, it can improve our strategic thinking and decision-making. Practicing strategic thinking through a neuroscience lens can help you sort the best way to implement change within your team including who to assign to each task and the most effective step-by-step process to achieve your goals.
Leadership skills through the neuroscience lens, refer to the ability to understand how neuroscience can help leaders to manage change more effectively by providing insights into how the brain processes change. This allows leaders to provide responsive guidance and support as needed through the change process. Depending on your role, this may involve leading by example by throwing your efforts into the change and showing your team how it’s done or leading through support by providing your team the resources and guidance they need to adopt whatever is necessary to make the new transition.
You will need to build trust or call upon the trust you have already built, showing that you are there for your team when times are uncertain and making sure that no one feels left behind or lost during the change process.
6. Measurement and Analysis
Lastly, many leaders fall prey to the illusion of confidence. This is a cognitive bias where individuals overestimate their ability to accurately predict future events or outcomes. This bias can lead to overconfidence in decision-making and can result in negative outcomes. modern leaders need the ability to implement measurement and analysis of success. This can be difficult during change management when the very standards you have built are shifting, but important for measuring how effectively you are enacting change as a team.
Set metrics for success and use concrete points of data to estimate how well the change is going, then use that information to improve your own leadership and provide better guidance to improve your process immediately or in the event of future changes.
Assess: How are your Change Management skills from the list above?
Going through the core skills of change management, where do you think you stand as a leader? One of the best traits a leader can have is the ability to self-assess and independently seek improvement. Are you a capable communicator, able to convey new and sometimes complex concepts to your team during times of change? Have you built a foundation of trust so that your team knows you have their back? Are you skilled at research or at the analytical measurement of success?
Rate yourself on each change management skill in order to build goals for self-improvement. It is always a good time to become a stronger leader, especially if you see change on the horizon that your team will need to tackle together.
Improve: Here are some steps on how to up your game
- Ask for feedback from your team
- Investigate best practices for the skills you wish to improve
- Attend live and virtual workshops
- Use tools that enhance your leadership capabilities
- Attend CRI’s Trauma-Informed Leadership Series
How to Become an Inspiring Leader in Times of Change
The key to being an inspiring and effective leader in times of change is to focus on your change management skills, as viewed through the lens of neuroscience. You can build your foundation of leadership through communication, responsiveness, and empathy with Community Resilience Initiative.
Contact us to explore our coursework and grow your skills as a compassionate, capable leader in a time of great change.