Leading Others Through Change

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By: Monique Betty

If I asked you to complete the following sentence with just one word, what word would you choose?

“Change is —”

Your answers may run the full gamut from “change is good” to “change is bad.” You may describe change as “challenging” or “difficult” or “exciting” or “scary.” Ultimately, the most accurate and universal answer of all is quite simply:

“Change is inevitable.”

Just as you become comfortable with the status quo, the status quo will change. Your organization may have to face the retirement of your CEO, a merger with another company, the creation of a new department, the introduction of a new product, the loss of a key client or a move to a new building. Any or all of those changes could have a positive or negative impact on your organization. Yes, even the loss of a client can ultimately be positive if it helps you self-evaluate and discover ways to reinvent your business in a way that can sustain your organization for years to come.

A major change in the corporate and business world has been the inclusion of women in the higher echelons of leadership and management. Some organizations welcome this development with open arms; other organizations are resistant to the idea of women in leadership roles. However, the truth is undeniable. Women such as Ginni Rometty at IBM, Indra Nooyi at PepsiCo and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo are leading some of the most iconic companies in the world. According to a definitive list of women CEOs provided by CNN Money, more women than ever currently lead companies that are on the Fortune 500 list.

If you are a woman in business who is tasked with leading your organization through a period of change, here are some steps you can take to help employees weather the change and respond positively to what is to come.

• Acknowledge the sense of loss

As your organization moves to something new, something old is going away. Recognize your employees’ emotions with regard to that loss, but also emphasize the potential for the organization to move ahead under new leadership, new ownership or with new opportunities.

• Provide clear and regular communication

Writing in The Washington Post, Joyce E.A. Russell reports that getting people to go along with change depends upon how it is communicated. Provide your employees with regular updates about what is happening with the organization. Otherwise, they will fill the void with rumors, speculation and inaccuracies.

• Solicit input

Change is accompanied by a myriad of decisions, both big and small. Some of the “small” things—like the color you paint the walls of your new corporate headquarters—may loom larger than you think. Solicit input from employees on matters as seemingly inconsequential as decorating their new offices and as critical as how to approach a new client, thus helping them feel ownership of these decisions.

• Focus on the future

Ensure that you have a professional development program in place that targets future leaders with employee education, training and coaching. Your employees will feel as if they are invaluable to your organization’s future success.
Monique Betty is a Career Strategist and Leadership Consultant and it is her mission to support experienced professionals in achieving valuable contributions in the workplace and achieve the career success they desire.


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