Download Your Free Leading Through Change Guide.

The Ultimate Guide to Leading Through Change

Everything a leader needs to know about successfully implementing organizational change.

Leading Through Change Guide

Download Your Complimentary
Leading Through Change Guide

Submit your information below to get our complementary copy of the Leading Through Change Guide. Plus, as we add more chapters, you'll automatically receive the latest version!

Chapter 1. What is Change Leadership?

Chapter 1. What is Change Leadership?

“Leadership Is About Setting A Direction… In Its Most Basic Sense, Leadership Is About Mobilizing A Group Of People To Jump Into A Better Future.”

– John Kotter

What Is Change Leadership?

Change Leadership is the process of leading others through the specific challenges that arise during any transitional period in the workplace. Change Leadership involves looking ahead at what is to come, including both challenges and opportunities, and helping your team to visualize the next steps so that they can be on board.

Change Leaders empower their teams to bring their best work forward, even in moments of transition, because they inspire trust. Change presents a challenging circumstance for any business, but a true change leader knows that their focus should be on their people rather than their circumstances. When you bring your team on board and support them, you can inspire true team transformation in the workplace.

Why is Change Leadership Important?

Change is a Difficult Thing for Leaders to maange. 

Every organizational decision has an impact on the people and the customers, and the inherent risk of implementing change is the possibility that this impact will be a negative one. Change can have unintentional consequences that damage the organization’s culture, disrupt and frustrate their workforce, or damage their relationships with clients or customers.
Read more on  Why Change Leadership is Important

“There is no matter more delicate to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.”

– Niccolo Macchiavelli

Perhaps one of the biggest risks is that poorly-handled change can damage relationships with talented employees. A person with highly-marketable skills might choose to leave the company rather than waiting it out if tensions run high during a transition.

In no uncertain terms, change is stressful. Leaders often feel a deep sense of responsibility to balance the needs of the organization and the needs of their people, and this can make things tricky.

Change Leaders Must Balance Conflicting Priorities:

  1. Get Better Results
  2. Support Your Team
  3. Avoid Disrupting Busines

The fear that leaders experience with change is a result of the worry that they are not prepared to handle it if something goes wrong. Nobody wants to be the cause of ruffled feathers. Change leadership skills are critical because change creates a unique situation that requires a different style of leadership.

The truth is, change happens whether we want it to or not. For example, organizational restructuring or rebranding, new leadership, new team formation, new product launches, expanding, and downsizing are just a few of the situations that force change upon companies.

Change is inevitable and uncertain, but change leadership skills give leaders the tools to navigate the unknown with confidence. This article will help you understand the ins and outs of change and the skills necessary to lead through it.

How Change Affects People

“Change is the process by which the future invades our lives.”

– Alvin Toffler

Despite the fact that it is inevitable, change can be a scary process even for experienced leaders. The explanation for this is simple: change involves risk. In order to minimize risks, leaders need to understand the different aspects of change from a technical perspective as well as a human perspective.

Organizational change has been a popular topic of research for decades, and our understanding of the psychological impacts of change have evolved over time. As a result, there have been a number of “best practice” methods created by influential change leaders, and these ideas are powerful tools for leaders to take advantage of.

4 Methodologies Every Change Leader Must Understand

Currently, the best methodologies for understanding and implementing change are

  • The Kübler-Ross Change Curve: correlation between a person’s emotional state and their level of
    engagement with work
  • The Bridges Transition Model makes it clear that transition and change are not the same thing.
  • Kotter’s 8 Steps for Implementing Change: guidance on how to accelerate change and improve success.
  • The Prosci Change Management model: successful process in managing the human side of change.

 

Understanding these different methods is critical for leaders to successfully navigate the various impacts of
change for individuals and organizations

 

Dr. John Kotter, a thought leader in change leadership, came up with an 8-step process for successful change. This pragmatic model helps accelerate the implementation of changes and boosts the chances of their success.

A key factor in the success of this model is engaging the entire workforce in a company’s changes. This allows leaders to handle the negative effects of the early stages of change by minimizing fear and accelerating the rate at which people accept and get excited about change.

How People Process Change Emotionally

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross created the Five Stages of Grief theory to explain the psychological process of losing someone. This theory has since been adapted to explain how people process change, and became the Kübler-Ross Change Curve.


The Kübler-Ross Change Curve is important for organizational change because it explains the correlation between a person’s emotional state and their level of engagement with work. Understanding the emotional stages of change sheds light on what leaders can do to support their people throughout the process.

Stage 1: Denial
  • Disbelief or fear are common. People may not want to accept that a change is necessary or choose to ignore that it is happening.
Stage 2: Frustration 
  • Irritability is common. In this stage, people accept that a change is happening and that it will affect them. They might be angry, looking for something or someone to blame.
 Stage 3: Bargaining
  • This is an attempt to postpone the inevitable. People may think that working harder or putting in longer hours will resolve the situation without the proposed change.
Stage 4: Depression
  • It becomes apparent that bargaining was not successful, and the reality of the situation sets in. People in this stage may be less engaged with the work and feel less motivated to succeed.
Stage 5: Acceptance
  • Even if they are not happy with the change, at this stage people become resigned to it and realize they need to get on board. Morale and competence begin to increase in this stage and typically surpass the starting point.

How to Minimize the Negative Impacts of Change

The timeline of implementing change is important to consider. The longer a transition takes, the greater the impact will be on everyone involved. The Bridges Transition Model exists to help leaders minimize these impacts throughout the process of implementing change.

The Bridges Transition Model makes it clear that change and transition are not the same thing. Change is the physical or technical aspect that is being altered, like structure or business model. Transition is the psychological process of adapting to a change.

This model explains that transition occurs in three stages, and each stage has a different effect on a person’s motivation, emotional wellbeing, job satisfaction, and even employee retention. To be a successful change leader, you must support your people as their needs evolve throughout each stage of a transition.

Stage 1: Endings - Realize that something needs to change

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!”

– Peter Senge

In this stage, a change has been made and the transition has begun. People are still getting on board, old habits and patterns are being broken, and people are processing the new ways of working. This is a crucial stage, because it can be very stressful and confusing.

This is the battle ground for moving from resistance to curiosity. When leaders are met with resistance, it is important for them to consider a person’s individual situation– what are they giving up in this transition and what do they stand to gain? If a leader can help each individual understand their new role and how their unique strengths will bring value, they can shift resistance to curiosity.

Inspiring curiosity is the key here. People who are curious will engage with the change fully, stepping into their new role with confidence and exploring new possibilities. When leaders empower people to look at issues with curiosity rather than resistance, they will be able to create their own solutions and take action rather than being stuck in a space of confusion or hesitation. Each person a leader inspires to be curious will then inspire more curiosity in those around them as they start to find success, and this accelerates the transition.

Stage 2: The Neutral Zone- People start to accept the change

“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic."

– Peter Drucker

In this stage, this is the fuzzy area where people are letting people but the change is not fully operational. People are still getting on board, old habits and patterns are being broken, and people are processing the new ways
of working. This is a crucial stage, because it can be very stressful and confusing due to lack of clarity or it can be an exciting time full of innovation.

This is the battle ground for moving from resistance to curiosity. When leaders are met with resistance, it is important for them to consider a person’s individual situation– what are they giving up in this transition and what do they stand to gain? If a leader can help each individual understand their new role and how their unique strengths will bring value, they can shift resistance to curiosity.

Inspiring curiosity is the key here. People who are curious will engage with the change fully, stepping into their new role with confidence and exploring new possibilities. When leaders empower people to look at issues with curiosity rather than resistance, they will be able to create their own solutions and take action rather than being stuck in a space of confusion or hesitation. Each person a leader inspires to be curious will then inspire more curiosity in those around them as they start to find success, and this accelerates the transition.

At this point, if a transition is handled correctly, people come to accept and understand their roles after the change. This time is characterized by deeper engagement, increased job satisfaction, and a renewed sense of purpose. The change now has momentum as more and more people are finding success in their new way of working.

In this stage, people should feel empowered to take on their new roles and iron out any kinks they might come across. They should be encouraged to innovate and find what works, and leaders should express confidence in their abilities to empower them to find their own solutions. The trust that leaders and teams build during the first and second stages will now allow leaders to give their people the reins and let them find their own success.

Stage 3: New Beginnings- Maintain momentum from change

“Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business.”

– Mark Sanborn

At this point, if a transition is handled correctly, people come to accept and understand their roles after the change. This time is characterized by deeper engagement, increased job satisfaction, and a renewed sense of purpose. The change now has momentum as more and more people are finding success in their new way of working.

In this stage, people should feel empowered to take on their new roles and iron out any kinks they might come across. They should be encouraged to innovate and find what works, and leaders should express confidence in their abilities to empower them to find their own solutions. The trust that leaders and teams build during the first and second stages will now allow leaders to give their people the reins and let them find their own success.

In this stage, leaders may have noticed low engagement, high rates of employee turnover, a shrinking profit margin, or another cause for concern. On the other hand, there might be a few that seize an exciting opportunity to develop or grow the business, a new product to offer, or an innovative new way of working to increase productivity. Whatever the cause, at this stage leaders will make decisions about what needs to be altered, replaced, or added to address the issue.

When leaders share the plans with their teams, people may be shocked, confused, or frustrated as they focus on what they are losing. It can be hard for people to adjust to the ways that their individual roles change as a result of organizational change. Productivity often drops as people grapple with this, wishing they could go back to how things were.

For example of what this can look like: if an organization switches to a new process that makes a certain task easier overall, someone who had mastered the old process and was praised by others for always offering assistance might worry that they will lose part of what made them valuable to the company with that change.

 

 

How to Accelerate the Process of Change

Dr. John Kotter is the creator of an 8-step process for successful change. This pragmatic model helps accelerate the implementation of changes and boosts the chances of their success.

A key factor in the success of this model is engaging the entire workforce in a company’s changes. This allows leaders to handle the negative effects of the early stages of change by minimizing fear and accelerating the rate at which people accept and get excited about change.

8 Steps for Accellerating Change:

Help others understand the situation at hand and why immediate action is necessary. What is at risk if you don’t take action?

Form a team of highly competent workers to take part in guiding and implementing the changes.

Form a team of highly competent workers to take part in guiding and implementing the changes.

Encourage a large group of people to get on board with the change, these people will be excited about new possibilities and will help bring others to the table.

Allow the changes to take place by removing inefficient structures that would otherwise prevent progress. This can include hierarchies and work processes. 

Recognizing and celebrating improvements energizes people to continue working toward changes. Make note of every step forward and remind people that things are going to keep getting better.

Keep moving forward as you accumulate more successes. When the first step is out of the way, go on to the next until you reach the final vision.

Communicate with others to help them see the improvements that correspond with the changes that have been implemented. This creates trust in the new processes and in a leader’s competence. 

How to Ensure Success In Organizational Change

Roughly 70% of all organizational change initiatives fail, resulting in millions of dollars lost, market share loss, disrupted customers, and a disengaged workforce. This model exists to guide leaders to focus on the key elements of successfully implementing changes.

The Prosci Methodology of Change Management is highly regarded for its success in managing the human side of change. It includes the Prosci Change Triangle (PCT) Model and the ADKAR Model

4 FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE THE SUCCESS OF ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

The Prosci Change Triangle (PCT) model includes four factors that influence the success of a change and states that if any of these factors are not handled well, the change will ultimately be unsuccessful

1. Clearly Define Success

  • You should consider why the change is necessary, how you will implement the change, and how the change will benefit the organization.

2. Gain Leadership/Sponsorship Commitment

  • Having the commitment of executive sponsorship is critical. When change becomes difficult and additional time, energy and money are required, you need a Senior Leader that will advocate and clear the path of resistance.

3. Partner With The Project Management Team

  • This collaboration allows you to co-create better solutions to whatever problems you face. Working with project management increases resources and training to help more people get on board with the change.

4. Integrate Change Management With Project
Management

  • Combining the team that handles the human side of change with the team that handles the logistics of integrating change is important for empowering employees to successfully be part of the change. When these teams work together, they create a clear plan that supports employees through the transition, giving them the tools they need to fully take part in the change.

Organizational Change Only Happens When Individuals Change

Change is personal, and every individual needs the opportunity to fully process what it means for them. People process change at different speeds, and they will need different levels of support from leadership as they do. It is the leader’s responsibility to create space for their team members to process these things and to offer whatever support is needed.

5 FACTORS OF INDIVIDUAL CHANGE
The Prosci ADKAR Model addresses the individual aspect of change with the understanding that organizational change is only possible if individuals get on board. “ADKAR” is an acronym that stands for:

Awareness:

Communicate change to employees well ahead of the
time.

Share ”why” pain points. Risk of not making changes.Address concerns and identify “Paint
Picture” of the opportunities for future state and individuals benefits to business and
employees.

Allow employees the opportunity to ask questions and give inputs.

Desire: 

Willingness to participate and be a part of the change.

Listen and seek to understand the reactions and concerns.

Identify champions.
Address concerns
and identify
opportunities for
individuals to contribute.

Knowledge: 

Provide training and
coaching on new
behaviors.

Address skill gaps.

Provide resources.

Ability: 

Schedule practice
runs.

Set goals and define
metrics.

Monitor
performance,
celebrate success,
and provide
feedback.

Reinforce: 

Monitor change
overtime to ensure
desired outcomes are
being met.

Celebrate success
and learn from the
growth of failure.

Catalyst of awesomeness small logo

Ready to Transform Your Team?

Download our complimentary 30 Day Team Transformation Coaching Worksheet for Leaders and their teams! We break down the step-by-step process with a downloadable worksheet. Download today!

Chapter 2. Be A Great Change Leader!

Chapter 2. Be A Great Change Leader!

Skills Great Change Leader Choose

Leadership is not an innate quality that some people are born with, it is a set of learned skills that anyone can invest in developing for themselves. Change leadership requires developing the ability to help others get excited about new possibilities and support them as they go through the process of the transition.

Leadership is about influence. The ability to influence others is born from a genuine interest in understanding
where people are at and meeting them there. Change leaders have to be able to process the impacts of
change on themselves, their followers, and the organization, and this requires a specific set of skills.

“Are leaders born or made? This is a false dichotomy. Leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders choose to be leaders.”

–Stephen R. Covey

 

Bring authenticity. Honor that which is  uniquely you! People gravitate towards people who are confident in themselves. Being  authentic is about TRUST. Choose to lead and  you will inspire others to be authentic. 

Create Clarity even when you cannot see. Vision & Mission followed by measured  goals that pave the way to  success —for a week or a  moment. 

 

Diversity does not just happen. You must  have diverse thinking when going to market. Be able to connect your talent to look like  your customer community. Create the space  to connect and learn who we are and how  we can embrace our unique perspectives and  talents. 

Inclusion is about creating an environment  that celebrates uniqueness with a powerful  sense of belonging. “Solicit other peoples’  voices.” Invite people to be a part of the solu tion by creating a space that values deep lis tening and curiosity. When everybody’s finger prints are on the blueprint, there is ownership  and clarity on the execution. 

 

Build trust. Trust starts with you. Before you  can receive trust you must give trust. Build  trust by delivering repeatedly AND connect  with others to understand what they value and  begin to bring that to life for each other. 

To build trust, create a space where you can
deliver before you ask—honoring the currency
of connection by connecting people. They are craving certainty and stability

Be a multiplier that allows everyone to lead. Know your unique strengths, and thestrengths of others so that everyone is focused on bringing their top talent to the game. Just because you can does not mean you should!


Seek Innovation. Acknowledge, celebrate,
learn and grow together. Innovative ideas require trust and willingness to fail. Learn how to fail together.


Be open and assert your voice. Create the space to speak what is on your heart and mind. Fear has no place in the success equation. When leaders say “what everyone is
thinking,” it builds confidence and trust. Creating the space to be together ensures you are not avoiding conversations that erode trust and miss the opportunity to lead

Resources for Developing Your Essential Change Leadership Skills

1. Communicate with Clarity. Co-create what success looks like. Helping others to clearly understand
your vision for the future minimizes confusion and rallies everyone behind the changes. Clear
communication allows a leader to make their plans and ideas clear so that even when people feel stress
and uncertainty in the moment, they can trust in the process and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Active listening is another important factor for communication, because change leaders must pay
close attention to feedback from others. A leader needs to be aware of what their people are feeling
so that they can offer whatever support is necessary.

2. Be Authentic. Bring authenticity by honoring that which is uniquely you! People gravitate towards
leaders who are confident in themselves, because authenticity inspires trust. Authentic leaders are selfaware, purposeful, consistent, and driven by their values. Authentic leaders foster strong interpersonal
relationships with others on their teams, and this builds a sense of trust between them. People know
that even in times of uncertainty, they can rely on authentic leaders to make the right decisions, and
this reduces resistance to change. Check out Carla Harris’ video on the power of authenticity.

3. Lead With a Coach Approach. Coaches believe in the creativity, talent and resourcefulness of their
team members. They do not steal the glory by rushing in to solve others’ problems. They do not rush
in to rescue someone who clearly can take care of themselves. They create clarity through questions;
they co-create new possibilities; they identify and innovate ideas to remove barriers; and they facilitate
a bias for action.

4. Be a Multiplier that Allows Everyone to Lead. Know your unique strengths and the strengths of
others so that everyone is focused on bringing their top talent to the game. When you are aware of
your strengths and the strengths of others, you can take on tasks that suit your strengths and you can
empower others to take on tasks that would better suit their own. Leaders let others shine — believing
more in others than they sometimes believe in themselves!

5. Be Agile. Agility is the ability to quickly respond to new challenges with decisive action. Agile
leaders find creative solutions to problems that arise for both the company and stakeholders, and they see mistakes as an opportunity to try again, rather than see them as a failure. Embrace mistakes as the “blessin’ of the lesson.” 

Agility inspires trust in a leader’s competence, which eases a lot of the stress of transition. When a leader is trustworthy, their team knows that they will make the right decisions. When they are agile, their team knows that chaos is only temporary, and they will feel more confident to stay with the organization through a period of transition as a result

6. Build Trust. Trust starts with you. Before you can receive trust you must give trust. AND connect
with others to understand what they value and begin to bring that to life for each other. Create a
space where you can deliver before you ask — honoring the currency of connection by connecting
people. They are craving certainty and stability. You also like, “Should Statements” as part of our 30 Day Team Challenge.

7. Actively Promote Diversity. Diversity is critical to success in a diverse society, but diversity does not just happen. You must be intentional in making diverse hiring decisions and promoting people with many different backgrounds and lived experiences.

Your talent should reflect your customer community. Create the space to connect and share. Embrace unique perspectives and talents.

8. Prioritize an Inclusive Team Environment. Inclusion is about creating an environment that
celebrates uniqueness with a powerful sense of belonging. You can hire a great diverse team, but if
you fail to create an environment to which everyone feels confident and capable of contributing, you are not reaching your highest team potential.

Solicit other people’s voices.” Invite people to be a part of the solution by creating a space that values
deep listening and curiosity. When everybody’s fingerprints are on the blueprint, there is ownership and clarity on the execution.

9. Strive for Innovation. Groupthink occurs when people do not feel empowered to speak their
minds. This is the echo chamber that every leader should wish to avoid. When your team simply goes
along with whatever is proposed and does not offer feedback, you miss the opportunity to push the
envelope and create better ideas and solutions.
Change leaders should invite feedback and input from their teams. Creating a space to work together
and truly discuss things builds confidence and trust and creates better solutions.


10. Shift Groupthink to Collaborative Conversations. Groupthink occurs when people do not feel
empowered to speak their minds. When your team simply goes along with whatever is proposed and
does not offer feedback, you miss the opportunity to push the envelope and create better ideas and
solutions. Collaborative conversations bring out the awesomeness in others.
Change leaders should invite feedback and input from their teams. Creating a space to work together
and truly discuss things builds confidence and trust and creates better solutions.

Change Starts with You!

Change leaders have the ability to influence every level of an organization. In order to be successful, however, they must consider the impact of changes for themselves, their team, and the business, and engage on each level appropriately.

Engage Self 

Anyone who is familiar with air travel is aware that in the event of an emergency, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others. This is sound advice for leaders who are in the process of implementing change. If you have not gone through the motions and weighed the costs and benefits for yourself first, you will not be in a position to ease the worries of others.

1. Engage In The New Vision

Get a clear idea of how this change will benefit you, your team, and your business and identify old patterns and structures that will need to be replaced. What is possible? What do you need? What are you afraid of?

2. Understand Your Strengths

Take an honest inventory of your skills and consider how they will contribute to your vision. Understand your role in this change and identify important roles for others to take on to make use of their own skills.

3. Be Curious And Confident

Uncertainty is unsettling, but when you look at questions with curiosity rather than fear, it can be much easier to move forward. Leading with confidence allows your team to trust that you will find a solution.

4. Be Innovative

Some trial and error may be necessary, and there is nothing wrong with that. Treat this as a normal step in the process of innovation rather than a sign that things are going wrong.

5. Set Actionable Steps And Move Forward

Even the best ideas are worthless if they die on the drawing board. Take action to get the ball rolling and trust yourself to revise the plan if necessary.

 

Engaging the Business and Transforming your Customer Value

Everyone transitions through change at their own pace. Leaders need to understand where people are on their change journey, how this is affecting them, and how to support them in order to successfully implement change.

  • Listen To What Is Being Said

Welcome feedback from those who offer it and try to limit the need to defend yourself. People who offer constructive criticism do so because they care about the team and the business, so it is important to be receptive to this.

  • Listen To What Is Not Being Said

Some people hesitate to voice concerns at the workplace, but this does not mean that they are unaffected. Pay attention to patterns like decreased engagement or increased absences as these are signs that people are struggling with the change.

  • Acknowledge Without Solving

Even if you do not have a solution to a problem, acknowledge the fears, stress, or anger that people express. Expressing empathy allows people to trust that you will do what is best.

  • Bring Others To The Table

Change energizes innovative minds, so make use of this opportunity by welcoming others to participate in brainstorming sessions. Making others a part of the process increases support for the change and can bring innovative solutions.

  • Recognize Efforts And Celebrate Wins

Acknowledging the work that others are doing and connecting the results to the change they have made is a great way to boost morale and get others to see the benefits of changes.

Engage Your Business

During times of change, leaders often have to address the culture of the company in order to engage the business in changes. Culture can either inhibit progress or accelerate it, so shifting to a positive culture is important for implementing long-term changes.

  • Take A Culture Inventory

Evaluate the existing hierarchy, processes, and overall attitudes of the organization. Are they driving success or inhibiting progress? Is there a mindset of scarcity or abundance?

  • Set Expectations

Clearly define the mission and values of the company. A firm set of values can act as a guide for behavior at the workplace and helps everyone align with the mission.

  • Challenge The Status Quo

Companies who get stuck in traditions and avoid innovation risk losing their competitive edge. Is there a more efficient way to operate?

  • Welcome Feedback

In order to successfully implement change that permeates the entire organization, the benefits of the change should be felt by everyone. Leaders should be receptive to feedback and be open to adapting the plans if necessary.

Chapter 3. The Power of Professional Storytelling During Change

Chapter 3. The Power of Professional Storytelling During Change

What is Professional Storytelling?

We are the stories that we tell of ourselves, of our team, and of our business. These stories are what we present to the world and how we show up. They are based on our belief system, which is how we interpret the world. We are telling our stories constantly, whether we realize it or not. Because a story is going to be told either way, it is best to tell it how
you want to so that others won’t begin to tell it for you.

Imagine your company is coming under new leadership and nothing has been communicated to your employees. You can hear the water cooler chatter already, can’t you? Imagine the rumor mill kicks into overdrive and before you know it, everyone has their own idea of what is going on and what it means for the future. This can quickly devolve into valuable employees updating their resumes and planning their escape route.

Now, imagine the same scenario with clear communication from executives. Your leaders intentionally share stories about the change, why it is happening, and what it means moving forward—this simple act of defining the story eliminates the need for panicked gossip. The story is being told clearly and correctly, and you avoid the disastrous consequences of a big misunderstanding.

 

This is why it is important to be clear with your professional stories. Your narrative is directly linked to your ability to succeed, and high achievers don’t leave room for loose interpretations

FIVE WAYS THAT YOUR STORIES CAN INFLUENCE CHANGE

  1. Create awareness of, and even excitement for, the change
  2. Ignite an eagerness for your people to be part of the change
  3. Build momentum for change as more people come on board
  4. Teams collaborate and design new ways of working
  5. Your customers will understand how they benefit from the change

There are three stories for individuals and teams that impact the success of your change: your personal story, your team story, and your business story. You can overcome the reflex to be fearful in the space of change by using your stories as an anchor to remind everyone to look toward a better future.

1.     The Story of You

Your personal story focuses on the things that will remain constant amidst the change. It does not lament the loss of what you have done in the past. Rather, your personal story tells you and your team who you are and what you are capable of. It tells the story of your potential, value, and impact.

A STRONG PERSONAL STORY CLARIFIES

  • Who you are
  • What fuels your purposeful work
  • Which talents/gifts are your professional superpowers
  • What value your superpowers hold
  • How that value impacts the people you serve

A clear personal story inspires confidence in your abilities and allows you to find new ways to engage with your work moving forward.

The moral of your personal story during change is this: “I know who I am and the talent that I have to offer. I am confident in my potential to be successful, even in a new environment. My past experiences of success were driven by who I am, not what I was doing.”

2. The Story of Your Team

Your team story defines who you are collectively. It is your brand– how others perceive you and the experience they have with you. Your team story allows everyone to take part in co-creating the values you bring forth in your work and shape the experience for others. It is a commitment to a way of being together.

YOUR TEAM STORY CLARIFIES

 

  • The team’s purpose
  • Shared values
  • Expectations of each other
  • Commitment to a certain way of working

Your team story impacts team culture, which is the foundation of everything from strong collaboration to desirable results. When a team’s story is clearly understood, it becomes a roadmap to success by clarifying expectations and guiding the actions that team members take.


3. The Story of Your Business

Your business story is how you tell your customers that you understand their priorities and are committed to their success. A clear business story defines the value that you bring for your customers and inspires confidence in your brand.

YOUR BUSINESS STORY CLARIFIES

 

  • How you tune in to your customers’ unique needs, values, and challenges
  • That your customer is the hero and you are the guide
  • How your values align with your customers’ values
  • That you will be a partner in their success
  • Your dedication to creating win- win solutions

“A mass movement never starts with a mass.”

–John Maxwell
Why Does Professional Storytelling Matter During Change?

We know that one of the greatest obstacles that change leaders must overcome is changing the mindsets of people who are impacted by the change. Change can be frustrating and difficult for people to accept, but professional storytelling is a powerful tool that allows change leaders to influence individual mindsets. With intentional stories, leaders can boost morale and generate excitement for change that accelerates the process.

Change is disruptive by nature. Any change, no matter how small, requires a change of mindset to be effective. Successful change leaders shift their stories to support the new way of thinking, feeling, and acting.

 

THE STORIES THAT LEADERS TELL HELP THEIR FOLLOWERS TO…

  • See the future vision for themselves and understand its value
  • Understand their new roles and how their talents support the vision
  • Overcome resistance to the change
  • Get on board with the change and take action
  • Personally invest in improving the team’s shared experience
  • Improve the customer experience

In the space of change, it can be easy for both leaders and followers to become overwhelmed and lose sight of what they hoped to achieve. A clear and intentional story can act as a guide that keeps everyone on the same page and working toward the ultimate goal regardless of any chaos that may unfold throughout the process

Professional Storytelling: Leaders Start Here

Before you can lead change, you must start by anchoring into your personal story. The ability to simultaneously lead others through a change and process it for yourself is critical to your success. Anchoring yourself to a steadfast, unwavering understanding of who you are and what you can do will allow you to navigate the unknown with authentic and confident leadership, which in turn inspires confidence in your abilities.

As a leader, you are the catalyst to spark a mass movement and transform your business. Your story is the foundation for understanding what is possible and connecting with a brighter vision of the future. This journey begins with self-discovery and crafting the story of your talents. When you can clearly communicate how your inherent qualities and superpowers have helped you in the past, you inspire confidence in your ability to deliver in times of change.

A clear and powerful personal story reminds your team that you are their steadfast guide through the uncertainty of change, and that you will lead them to a brighter and more successful future. When they know your story, followers gain a deeper understanding of how and why you make decisions. This helps them trust that every decision has the team in mind and makes it much easier to accept and support changes.

A POWERFUL PERSONAL STORY CLEARLY DEFINES

  1. Your values
  2. Your professional strengths (superpowers)
  3. Your purpose
  4. Your commitment to success
  5. Your commitment to supporting the team

During change, a clear personal story will reinforce the connection between you and your followers– they don’t know how things will play out, but they know who you are and they believe in your leadership.

Similarly, your personal story inspires trust from your customers. The uncertainty of change creates stress for your customers.  They need to be reminded that you are dedicated to meeting their needs. Clearly communicating your personal story minimizes the impact on your customer by inspiring trust. Your story reminds your customers that commitment to their success is at the heart of your mission, and all decisions are made with them in mind

Professional stories lay the foundation for psychological safety.

Rules for Powerful Change Leadership Stories
  1. Your story must explain why you are asking others to participate in a change
  2. Your story must connect to a higher purpose that inspires others to join in
  3. Your story must authentically speak to your values and the team’s shared values
  4. Your story must explain how your talents will add value and contribute to future success

“As a leader, I am dedicated to supporting my team through this transition and furthering our shared goals. I will use my superpowers to bring out the best in my team. I will make strategic decisions and trust that my skills will be enough to successfully carry me and my team forward, even when I do not have all the answers.”

THE MORAL OF YOUR CHANGE STORY

professional Storytelling and Your Team

Once you have a firm understanding of your personal story, you are ready to focus on the story of your team.

High-performance teams are cohesive groups that work together to achieve a shared vision of success. Your team’s story is the foundation of understanding shared goals, expectations, and how everyone contributes to the success of the team. Once everyone has their individual stories clearly defined and understood, the team story defines how you all work together to achieve a clear vision of success.

When the team aligns with a clear vision, the story of “who we can be” and “what is possible” inspires action Furthermore, when each team member takes ownership of their role and makes their strengths clear, collaborative efforts become much stronger. This is especially important during change, because change disrupts the old ways of working and often leads to some trial and error. When the team is confident in their ability to perform well together, they can trust themselves to problem solve as they go.

When we lead with our stories, we discover more about ourselves and each other, opening the door for empathy and trust. This allows the team to intentionally create the stories of who they are for each other and their customers. In the space of change, if we are not intentional, we are at risk of new stories emerging that become barriers to success.

During change, people often struggle to understand how their roles will change and wonder if they will be able to contribute the same value in their new roles. Team stories serve to remind everyone that their unique talents bring irreplaceable value to collaborative efforts. When each person understands why their role is necessary, it is easier to understand what is needed and how they can bring value. This creates a bias for action by helping your team overcome hesitation in times of uncertainty.

Rules for Powerful Team Stories
  1. The story unites the team around a clear vision of success and purpose for the future
  2. The story establishes a sense of belonging by celebrating everyone’s unique gifts
  3. The story defines who you are as a team, including shared values and expectations
  4. The story creates a sense of accountability and a dedication to new ways of working
  5. The story empowers the team to act without hesitation, even in times of uncertainty
Professional Storytelling and Your Business

 “I learned that when you can turn a presentation into a conversation, you have won the battle of converting a client; and second, I learned that the real Carla was my best competitive weapon and my key personal advantage.” ―Carla Harris, Expect to Win: Proven Strategies for Success from a Wall Street Vet 

Your business story is the story of who you are for your customers, and it is important to be very clear during times of change. A strong business story is an open and honest description of your mission, purpose, and the value that you offer to your customers. This story sets you apart from the competition and inspires confidence and loyalty in your brand.

Your customers don’t want to be negatively impacted by the process of change. Successful change leaders take this into consideration and craft business stories that inspire confidence in the customers which in turn leads to loyalty.  The business story tells your customers that they are your top priority and that changes will benefit them in the end.

Professional Storytelling In Action: Leader Spotlight

As a leader, every interaction with your followers is a chance to reinforce individual, team, and business stories. You can inspire action in the face of failure and keep the story straight amid chaos. The stories that you reinforce set the stage for what your team can accomplish. Below is a real-world example of excellent use of storytelling by a leader.

Anson Dorrance is a US Women’s soccer coach currently coaching at the University of North Carolina. With 22 National Championships, he knows what it takes to bring a team to peak performance.

On June 11th, 2015, he shared the power of team storytelling “What Drives Winning Conference.” It is an excellent example of how stories can create an emotional supercharge that strengthens individuals’ connection to the overall mission and reinforces the value of individual contributions to collaborative efforts

  1. Play for something greater than ourselves
  2. Construct Societies where we play for each other
  3. Acknowledge the greatness of each player as a human being
  4. Tell the story of each individual senior so that every player on the team knows who they are playing for in that last championship game
  5. Tell stories that align to a higher purpose for winning the game

Check out our blog on teamwork and recognition to learn more about reinforcing powerful team stories by acknowledging individual contributions.

Chapter 4. Leading Change That Builds Culture

Chapter 4. Leading Change that Builds Culture

Culture is created through shared stories

When we are intentional with our stories, we can control the course of our professions, our team’s  success, and the success of our business. Through shared stories, we connect and begin to own who we are individually as well as who we will be as a team.

 If we fail to be intentional, we will create stories that may not be in service to our customers, our teams, or ourselves, and this is how negative cultures develop. 

Shared Stories are Created Through Change

Company culture is at risk during any transition, because people tend to question their future and whether or not they can be a valuable asset amidst changing procedures. People fear the potential loss that can result from change, and fear often sends the rumor mill into overdrive. If your stories are not clearly told, people will have room to speculate and new stories will develop on their own that will be detrimental to your efforts. When you own your stories with clarity and intention, you take control of the information that spreads and thus gain control of the culture that is being built. 

Our magical story begins with the discovery of who we are individually and how our collective powers will render limitless possibilities. Ready to write our first chapter?

—Colleen Dodson
The Power of Our Stories

When we lead with our stories, we discover more about ourselves and each other, opening the door for empathy and trust. This allow the team to intentionally create the stories of who they are for each other, and their customers. In the space of change, if we are not intentional, we are at risk of new stories emerging that become barriers to success.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you  can or you can’t, you are right.” Now is the time to lead with stories that build trust and establish connection, stories where your show how you can significantly impact the healthcare system and the lives of patients.

When you realize you are the author of your own story, you are empowered to have greater control over your future direction. Finding your inner compass enables you to be successful maneuvering through changing surroundings. When we are intentional with our stories, then we choose our course. Together we connect and begin to share who we are individually and create who we will be together.

If we fail to be intentional, we will create stories that
may not be in service to our customers, in service to our
teams, and in service to ourselves.

Every Change Leader's Biggest Culture Challenge: Mindset

A change leaders biggest challenge is to help establish a new pattern of thinking. Patterns of thought influence what people believe, how people behave and what they can achieve, and they can be either positive or negative. Negative patterns tend to come from a scarcity mindset, whereas positive patterns are typical of an abundance mindset.

A vibrant culture with an abundance mindset encourages people to perform on a higher level and collaborate more closely with their teams. Shifting from a culture dominated by the scarcity mindset to a culture powered by the abundance mindset can transform every level of an organization. It is often the difference between companies that “get by” and companies that thrive.

 

THE MINDSET BATTLE BETWEEN ABUNDANCE AND SCARCITY

The Scarcity Mindset

A scarcity mindset means that your way of thinking is centered around fear and unfulfilled needs. This leads to feelings of stress or fear that can have a paralyzing effect on engagement in the office. A company culture dominated by a scarcity mindset might exhibit “trade-off” thinking, a belief that it is impossible to accomplish everything, so

you must choose one thing over another. A scarcity mindset can also lead to envy and competition where one person’s success is equated to another’s failure.

The Abundance Mindset

In contrast, an abundance mindset focuses on opportunity and excitement. This mindset creates feelings of excitement, gratitude, and increased job satisfaction, with a company culture that promotes teamwork and a shared vision of success. Scarcity limits a company’s plans to the immediate tasks, but abundance allows people to look past their current projects to see the bigger picture.

CHANGE LEADERS CAN SHIFT THE CULTURE FROM SCARCITY TO ABUNDANCE

Culture is often at the heart of organizational problems. Because negative patterns of thinking lead to negative outcomes for the company, it is important for change leaders to address company culture as they implement changes.

Leaders who work closely with their teams have a big impact on how people “show up” every day in their work, for each other, and with their customers. These leaders reinforce the company culture and give it life. When these leaders develop change leadership skills, they can engage individually with their teams to give them the support they need and shift the company culture to align with a better vision of the future.

Being Intentional With Our Stories

Tips for Transforming Culture During Change

 

1.  CLEARLY DEFINE INDIVIDUAL, TEAM, AND COMPANY STORIES

Every conversation is a chance to connect to a culture of abundance. Your job is not to sell the change initiative by arguing the points, but to instill confidence in the change by asking questions that promote an abundance mindset. Change leaders clarify company values through dialogue that inspires their team members to consider “what is possible” rather than what they “can’t do”.  When people feel that their contributions make a valuable impact, they engage on a higher level and bring their best talents forward.

2. BE AN AUTHENTIC LEADER

Lead with integrity, transparency, and a strong vision for the future. Authentic leaders forge strong bonds with their teams that are based in trust. This inspires others to be more committed to the organization and more engaged with their work� As their leader you are not immune to the stress of changes� Being vulnerable in sharing your story and concerns is courageous and honest, and this builds their trust in your leadership. Allowing your team to see you as human gives them permission to really think about the change and results in an opportunity to discuss and reinforce the company culture.

3. HELP OTHERS SEE THE VISION FOR THEMSELVES

Organizational change can only succeed if individuals opt in. When people have a clear understanding of their new role and the possibilities for their future, this creates a desire to take part in change and makes people excited to opt in. True change leaders help individuals see where they can make the biggest impact and empower them to step into their roles with confidence.

4. STOP RACING AGAINST THE CLOCK

Change doesn’t happen overnight, and implementing successful changes requires leaders to slow down and be intentional with their communication and their actions. People adapt to changes at a different pace, and being mindful of where people are at in the process is important.

5. GIVE UP THE TO-DO LIST.

A long list of tasks can actually hinder performance. Checking off items provides a short burst of satisfaction, but this can lead to prioritizing quick tasks over important ones. For this reason, it is best to create a list of objectives or goals that support the vision of success rather than spelling out every individual task. This empowers people to use their time and their talents wisely.

Hire Us Today

Leadership Coaching, Team Workshops and Speaking Engagements.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE