Running Common Purpose in the region, I have the great pleasure of hearing a wide range of successful leaders tell frank stories about how they have turned organisations around, achieved great success and overcome huge barriers. I spent the morning with our senior leaders group reflecting on how leaders take their people and organisations through change and heard from Ralph Rimmer, Chief Operating Officer at the Rugby Football League. He told his own leadership story and reflected on the lessons he has learned along the way. Our Common Purpose group of senior people from business, public service and not-for-profit organisations in the region then reflected on their own experiences and highlighted a number of leadership essentials when leading any change in an organisation…
- Destination is crucial – leaders need flex and take a different path if they need to, but knowing and communicating the destination in any piece of change is key, and it’s just as important for people to be really clear on values – what the organisation and you as the leader stand for.
- Consistency builds trust – as a leader you need to be aware that the way you react to any situation, good or bad, can build of kill trust in the organisation. There is no point trying to encourage a culture which is innovative and where people can make mistakes if the leader lambasts people for getting things wrong.
- Repetition rules – leading real and sustainable change is often a long game. Leaders need to be aware that messages need repeating again and again and that people need to get an honest sense of progress. Regular and visual updates are key to helping people understand how things are progressing, what their role is and how they’re contributing to the end goal.
- Pre-empt the difficult questions – whenever you try to do something different there will always be those who like the status quo or who will not want you to succeed. It’s important for leaders to surround themselves with people who are supportive, but will ask the difficult questions and challenge thinking to strengthen a case and argument. Pre-emptive challenge results in a better evidence base and stronger strategy.
Claire Bennett is an Operations Director for Common Purpose in the UK, developing leaders who can cross boundaries for over 25 years. For more information on Common Purpose and their programmes in Yorkshire and beyond visit http://commonpurpose.org/uk