What does differentiate leaders from managers?

There could be many answers to this but one of most common abilities and skills that leaders have is their ability to lead change. 

In the current business environment, existence of organizations is constantly being threatened by change. So organizations do need such leaders who can envision, lead and successfully deliver change.

Those who are skilled at leading change are recognized as effective leaders. It means that there are certain leadership skills for organizational change. Though some people are born with natural personalities traits but most of these leadership skills can be developed through experience and honed by continuously practicing it. 

Let’s discuss and learn about leadership skills for organizational change. 

1. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability of a leader to think clearly about big picture and translate vision into reality. They are skilled at giving attention to every detail that are essential for change and they are able to foresee challenges that they may face during implementation. 

The skill of thinking strategically is not commonly available. One research finds out that only 10% leaders are strategic thinkers who have ability to lead through the tough times. Only they are the leaders who have ability to solving complex problems and taking organizations out of crisis instead of winning short-term targets.

2. Communication

Effective communication is the key in entire process of change management. Employees need to hear from their leader that what does change entail; why change is necessary, what does change mean to them and what are new ways of working. 

Communication is not a one-way process. It involves having feedback from employees and team members. Change leaders ensure that thoughts and suggestions of team members are genuinely heard and taken care of.   

Through their communication and listening skills, change leaders are more likely to overcome and manage resistance to change. 

3. Ability to analyze progress 

One of fundamental leadership skills for organizational change is the ability to measure and analyze progress.  With identifying right indicators, effective leaders track progress on change and take corrective actions if things are not heading in right direction. 

When there is abundance of data, it is hard to pick up relevant information which define progress. And that is where a skilled leader defines success and analyze what is impact of change on organization. 

4. Push and Pull Style of Leadership 

Pushing refers to force employees and team members to move forward and complete their tasks. It’s more about meeting deadlines, targets, deliverables.  Change leaders need to exhibit strong push to accomplish the job. 

On the other hand, they also know that pushing alone can’t take them through. They know how to keep balance between push and pull style of management. Through pulling they create excitement and interest about change and they inspire and motivate their team to be creative and innovative. 

This is their skill that they exactly know what result is achieved through push and what does pull produce for organizational change. They combine push and pull to accomplish desired results. 

5. Resilience

Resilience is defined as the ability to face failures and disappointments and continue to work hard despite it. It’s natural to face challenges throughout a change process, but a resilient leader may resist the notion that a setback means change has failed. 

Rather, they adapt and seek to overcome the problem. A resilient change leader would continue to seek executive support for a change project, presenting whatever data or other evidence necessary to persuade them to back the effort.  

6. Decision-making

One of the most effective leadership skills for organizational change is to act quickly and make timely decisions. One of research suggests that leaders who make quick decisions are twice effective at making change happen. 

Change process involves resistance, fear and uncertainty and if effective leaders can overcome these factors by being decisive and making quick decisions.

They have skill to gather all necessary information and details required to make informed decision. They know the importance of making decisions and believe that delay will result into loss of time and resources.  

7. Confidence

Confidence is defined as a feeling of trust in oneself, team, or a strategy.  When an organization undergoes change, it’s critical that you believe that it can succeed and your team is capable to achieve and you can effectively lead your team through transformative time. 

When times get tough, self-confidence may help you persist, and your confidence in your team and the process can generate confidence in your employees.

8. Mentoring

A change leader with great coaching and mentoring abilities can help their team to transform and perform better in the time of change. 

Mentoring typically involves a positive attitude of support and guidance, as well as a tendency to counsel others who are experiencing difficulties. 

Change leaders with mentoring skills reach out to their team members who become anxious, unfocussed and frustrated due to uncertain future. Mentoring from leadership provides support and encouragement to stay focused and perform without fear. 

Take Home Points: 

  • There are 08 personality traits and skills which make effective change leaders
  • They think strategically about organizational goals and plans. 
  • They have extra-ordinary communication and listening skill.
  • They have unique ability to measure and analyze progress. 
  • They know when to use push and when pull style of leadership is required. 
  • They are resilient and overcome initials setbacks. 
  • They act quickly and make timely but informed decisions.
  • They have confidence and faith in their own and team’s abilities.
  • They are wonderful mentors especially in tough times of change.