Markets are changing at an accelerated pace. New technologies, disruptive business models and societal trends have led to unprecedented changes in our work world. Those who would like to respond to and keep abreast of these changes need authentic transformational leadership.
This is because transformation is painful. In the literature, the transformation phase, with its shift away from old structures in favor of new ways of thinking and business processes is often referred to as a neutral zone. And in most cases, it is fraught with uncertainty, risk and turbulence. What happens in the neutral zone tends to determine how quickly and securely employees and enterprise embrace and accept the changes.
Ideally, those taking the lead will understand the importance of combining hard and soft factors in the transformation process. Moreover, they will identify strengths and resources in the enterprise, create new visions of the future at shorter intervals and adapt the organizational structure and processes to these visions. And finally, they will begin to communicate all of the changes at an early stage, include employees and other stakeholders in the process and thereby help to form a new enterprise culture.
The successful high-performance leader is able to motivate employees so as to secure the necessary change – even if the transformation is associated with a painful restructuring process. The direct inclusion of employees in the transformation process enables the management to win over the trust of their employees, which is tremendously important for success! All managers who have experience in communicating difficult transformation projects will confirm that the corresponding projects are destined to fail if the employees refuse to go along.
Leadership during the transformation phase will involve persuading the employees to accept a new set of values. This requires courage, an understanding of human nature and a wide range of interpersonal skills. And that is one of the reasons why I am commissioned by enterprises to lead such transformations, i.e. in order to motivate and develop a sense of responsibility among employees so that all are willing to join forces and right the ship on a more promising course into the future.