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5 Mistakes Leaders Make During Change

Change. This world is consistently changing, new products, strategies, tools, equipment and even people are consistently evolving. Hopefully change is also something that happens in your organisation, because if everything around you continually evolves and you don’t this means you are staying behind and loosing relevance.

So hopefully you are part of an organisation or as a leader you are someone who embraces change. Change happens to us all and it is our job to decide how to navigate it. Seasons of change are known for being a bit ground shaking. So I thought it might be a good idea to share some advice based on mistakes I’ve done as a leader.

5 Mistakes Leaders Make During Change

Whatever you decide to do during this season, will either stop your team from growing or will push them forward to the next level. So let me share with you 5 mistakes that you should avoid as a leader during change.

Keeping the vision as something abstract

A vision is known for being a statement or a few statements that show you where you are going.

The vision of the company is what will keep it’s workers motivated. So for this very reason it is important that the vision does not remain as abstract.

The vision could be an abstract statement like “To change the world”. But as a leader you need to find a way of expressing how what you do fits in that vision. How is your organisation changing the world? What does changing the world look like? Are we empowering others to change the world or do we thin our product is producing a change?

When the vision remains abstract, people find it hard to relate to it. And in seasons of change it is extremely important to remind yourself of what is consistent (the vision). Maybe find a way of letting each of your departments know how what they do fits in that vision. And make it visible! Place the vision on walls, in computer screens in conversations. When people have a clear direction they will not doubt in taking the next step.

Over focusing on the lack 

Change happens for a reason. It happens when we realise that there are things we can improve as individuals or as an organisation. But change also takes time. Specially if what you are trying to improve involves a structure or a work flow. Actions might be easy to change but mindsets might take a bit longer to re accomodate.

One of the mistakes we make as leaders is get frustrated when change doesn’t happen as fast. And we get trapped in continually focusing on what we don’t have yet. Lets imagine you want to improve your results, which involves a change in a process. When you implement a new process, you might still get the same results or maybe a bit better but not quite for a little while. But don’t over focus on the lack.

There is nothing worse than a team that is trying to improve, but continually gets hit with negative comments on their way to change. Always celebrate the good change that took place, and use those as a motivation to make the next change. If your team improved their flexibility, recognise it along with what still needs to improve.

High demand and lack of tools 

This was actually a recent feedback I received from one of the teams I lead. I found myself frustrated because they were not delivering on time. And sometimes even frustrated with the quality of product they delivered.

I think this point applies in general life, but specially during times of change. You cannot expect to have a high demand on your team if you do not empower them with the tools they need to meet that demand. As a leader it is easy to get frustrated when things don’t end up as you imagined, but remember that your job as a leader is to give your teams the tools so that they can produce better and also so that they can continue to grow personally.

An example of this could be that if you are demanding reports, you need to ensure they have access to information. If you are demanding designs, you need to make sure they have a clear direction. If you are demanding for team management, ensure that you did your part communicating the authority they have as leaders and making their job profile clear to them. Communication is key.

Another tool that people might underestimate is time. Flexibility is real and it is a characteristic that every leader and team member should work on. But when it is in your hands to be organised, make sure you do your best to give your team the tool of time, so that they can also organise themselves and produce better results.

Getting frustrated with questions 

Assumption can be the worst enemy of your organisation. Never assume someone knows something. Specially in times of change, be patient with your team and take the time to answer questions if they have any. Remember questions now will save you from mistakes and misunderstandings tomorrow.

So don’t get frustrated when the team asks questions. Instead create a culture in which people learn that asking questions is ok. Help them understand that it is a way of learning. Now, if the same questions are asked over and over again, maybe you will need to have a chat with the team to clarify if you are not communicating well or if they are simply not paying attention. It would be amazing to be a part of an organisation where questions are seen as a sign of curiosity and willingness to learn instead of something negative.

Attaching to the old 

One last mistake you do not want to make as a leader is to refuse change by attaching to the old. Old doesn’t mean bad, but it might have been great for just a season. Now it is time to move forward and find new things to do, in a new way and maybe even with new people.

We should never despite the old. Old might be the foundations on which you are standing today, and old might have been a small beginning. but as you move forward, you need to use old things as a platform to reach new levels and not as a ceiling to stay the same. So it is time to change! Decide to make this journey a fun learning experience for yourself and your team!

Was this useful? What else do you think might be helpful in times of change?

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