Updated: Oct 10
Leaders are not just at the top of organisations; they are at many levels throughout the organisation. On many occasions’ directives come from above that are in the best interest of the organisation but may be disagreeable to staff members. So how then does a leader bring in change and gain the support of their staff?
It all starts way before that. It is a leader’s job to build rapport with their staff on all levels. I was speaking with a leader recently and they told me their story. She started working in a large organisation looking after several hundred staff, including assistant directors and managers of various teams.
The normal way of promotion in this organisation was from within so her appointment from the outside to this role had a lot of noses out of joint. She received a difficult time by the staff who believed that the job should have been theirs. She knew she could not change their thinking so she went to work on the guys and girls on the front line, the guys doing the hard yards.
This leader would walk around the building every morning greeting all her staff. She would spend a few minutes a day talking with individuals asking, for example, how their weekend was. Her office was a desk in an area where her staff sat, so she was accessible to all. If somebody wanted to speak with her, she would down tools and mindfully listen sometimes for hours, showing empathy and understanding.
This leader started all different types of initiatives to promote wellbeing, work / life balance, and platforms for learning and feedback. She created such an environment that her team valued and respected her and they would go into battle for her regardless of the situation. Or as they would say in the defence force: “With you, with me.” Meaning, if you go, I go and verse-a-versa-a.
So how then do you, the leader, bring in change and gain the support of your staff members?
Firstly, by valuing your staff, all of them. Showing them that you really do care about each and every one of them. Take the time to listen to them regardless of how busy you are. If you do not have time right then and there then schedule a time to sit with them asap, regardless of how trivial the topic.
Secondly, tell you staff about the change, the reasons behind the change, what the positives of the change are, and why the change is necessary.
Thirdly, involve your staff, ask them how this can best be implemented.
Fourthly, listen and gather information from the staff who know it best.
In conclusion, a manager may just command the change required of the staff, telling them that it is what it is and you better do it. But a true leader will first build valued relationships. A true leader will explain the change and ask the best possible way to implement it, thus gaining the trust and support of their staff.
So, are you managing or leading?
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