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How to choose a change leader

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What do all successful projects have in common? Great leadership.

When it comes to your most critical project, selecting the right Change Leader can spell the difference between success and failure.  While a good consulting partner can arm you with the custom solutions you need to transform your operations, that’s only half the battle.  You also need to provide a motivated leader who will take action and implement solutions.

When it’s time to choose a Change Leader, remember these five priorities:

  1. Choose a leader who is admired in your organization.
    When you appoint a widely respected owner, it sends a strong signal about your project’s importance and encourages adoption from the start.  Why? Because choosing someone who’s on the fast track and known for being a “doer” makes it clear that you are committed to the success of the project.
  2. Choose a leader who is trusted.
    Most people are skeptical of change.  It’s not enough for outside experts to tell your people you have their best interests at heart.  Trust is both earned and learned.  The message must be reinforced by a leader who comes from within your organization.  Select an individual who will set an example that inspires your people to participate in the process.
  3. Choose a leader who communicates effectively.
    Remarkable transformations take time, and keeping people committed to long-term goals isn’t a one-off event.  The story behind why you are making changes is one your change leader will have to repeat across your organization.  An engaging and confident communicator is ideal for this role.  But appoint someone who listens, too, and can translate executive decisions into employee actions.
  4. Choose a leader who is accountable.
    Being a change leader is a serious responsibility.  Choose someone who can rise to the challenge and take ownership of your high-stakes project.  A good change leader takes success, and failure, personally.  Ask yourself if your leader will have the confidence to make decisive recommendations and see them through.
  5. Choose a leader who understands your business.
    Now that you have identified a change leader your staff admires, trusts, and comprehends, make sure the person understands your business.  Not just how the supply chain works.  Share with them how decisions are made, who owns those decisions, and how different groups in your company interact.  Warn them if you suspect specific areas of concern.  Information will enable your change leader to engage the right people at the right time and better navigate internal politics.

Knowing what makes a Change Leader successful should make it easier to choose yours.  Letting that individual know why you chose them is a critical step in setting them up for success.  Even skilled sailors need a captain in uncharted waters.  Let your Change Leader know you will be there to support them.  Our most successful clients agree that the key difference between well-intentioned change and well-executed change is exceptional leadership.

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