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Leading By Example: The Importance Of Effective Leadership To Business Transformation

By Greg Pritchett, Managing Director, Marval

If we had to describe today’s business climate in just one word, that word would probably be “evolving”. Most organisations today (particularly the large ones) live and breathe change; a constant, enduring and often abrasive change that seems to have penetrated all functions and operations, usually as part of the organisations’ ongoing business transformation journey.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic switch to business transformation. It has to go through change. Change leads to disruption (a positive one, but still disruption) and disruption leads to cultural anomalies within the organisation.

For team managers, cultural anomaly can be one of the most crucial and demanding challenges. That is because teams need the individuals’ alignment and integration to function. Teams need cultural “togetherness”, or they may become a burden to progress. And the managers’ job is to ensure their teams are aligned and ready to progress, by embracing any change.

In times of disruption, people will look up to their managers for guidance and support; and managers should mentor and inspire their teams, employing transformational leadership instead of the typical change management approach.

The difference between traditional change management and transformational leadership is that the latter suggests engagement and active involvement of employees at all stages. Built upon four fundamental qualities, vision, communication, trust and resilience, transformational leadership requires that leaders:

Have a clear vision and share this vision with their team, ensuring that each member has understood and accepted the goals set. They work with the team as a whole and with its individuals separately, making sure that everyone is able to describe the vision and explain what, why, when, and how: what the anticipated outcome is, why it’s important, what the timeframe for completion is and what steps will be followed to implementation. Great leaders start by ensuring that every single member of their team is on board and aligned with the objectives.

Develop an open, flowing, social communication stream, so their teams can share concerns and ideas with each other, be candid about their challenges and pain points, and let off steam. Although based on perfectly rational, reasonable and documented arguments, change tends to shake things up and challenge people’s ways and emotions. Even when the team is engaged, conflicts and resistance can still hinder progress. Social interactions will strengthen the sense of belonging among team members and unite the team, as they get ready for welcoming the new.

Are fully and utterly trusted. Even if nothing goes according to plan, even when there are ongoing challenges (actually, particularly then), great leaders enjoy the trust of their teams, and confidence in their ability to overcome the hurdle and drive the team to success.

Are resilient. In times of change, managers often find themselves between a Board of Directors and their team. Great leaders are resilient to the pressure and maintain focus on the final goal, being an excellent role model for their team.

To quote author Stephen Covey, “If you want small changes, work on your attitude. But if you want big and primary changes, work on your paradigm.” Business Transformation is a big and primary change, demanding solid management and leaders to lead by example. And that’s exactly what senior managers should do: embrace change, instil enthusiasm for the new, and share a clearly defined vision with their teams, where everyone’s role is specifically described and highlighted as part of the change chain.

Business Transformation goes through change, disruption and cultural anomalies, which only effective leadership can soothe. Great leaders will build openness and confidence in their team and show the way with active reinforcement of the right culture, using their most efficient and persuasive tool: their example.


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