by Ian Saunders, Antony Aitken, Ray Charlton and David Flatman

Leading and managing change

To deliver change successfully or, more correctly, to enable change you need to undertake activities that cover both leading and managing.

Key point

There is a highly significant difference between leading and managing. We want to emphasise the difference and build up a picture that shows how both are vital for delivering change successfully.

Leading change

On the Want to know more? page, we refer to two very accessible books by John Kotter. In the first, he outlines eight stages that are important to leading change, and where mistakes are often made. In the second book he gives more examples and ideas on how to handle these stages, particularly from an engagement perspective.

Leading Change – an eight stage process

1. Establishing a sense of urgency

2. Creating the guiding coalition

3. Developing a vision and strategy

4. Communicating the change vision

5. Empowering broad-based action

6. Generating short-term wins

7. Consolidating gains and producing more change

8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture

From Leading Change by John P Kotter

In essence, both his books highlight the part played by vision, direction and involvement in successful change. People need to see and feel first, and only then will they change by doing things differently.

In other words, analysis, charts and thinking do not deliver change, people do.

And people will only deliver change if blessed with good leadership.

Leadership is the process of creating and sustaining purpose, direction and intent such that people become involved to support the purpose. Without leadership, any change is unlikely to get going, and without continual reinforcement through good leadership, a change effort is likely to falter, flag or come to a stop.

So how do you ensure that you get good leading and leadership into your change programmes, projects or initiatives?

  1. Ensure that you have a business case that makes sense to those who will be impacted by the change – remember people outside the business who might also be involved.
  2. Ensure that you have some sound personal reasons as to why people should engage. What is in it for them?
  3. Get people involved with the change so that they really engage positively with it. This will ensure a greater willingness to change.
  4. Communicate, communicate and continue to communicate the purpose and direction of the change.

If you are involved in leading a change

If you cannot answer all the following questions with a Yes then you need to find good answers – and quickly.

  • Do you know the business case for the change?
  • Are you clear about the purpose and direction?
  • Is the impact on you and others clear?
  • Have you created a strong sense of urgency yet?
  • Have you got a group of people around you who are committed to the change?
  • Is it understood that any change will be messy and that the path to the end will not be straight and flat?
  • Do you know where to go and get help when things do not go as expected?

Managing change

While we have stressed the importance of leading and leadership in delivering change, management and managing activities are also necessary.

Leadership is doing the RIGHT things.

Management is doing things RIGHT.

Peter Drucker

Once the appropriate leadership activities have been put in place – the vision and direction have been defined and people are changing their behaviours – then the management processes and mechanisms for planning and monitoring change have their place.

The set of management activities that we have found to be a useful complement to leadership activities can be summed up under the heading of programme management.

Programme management

  • Strategic positioning – clear objectives for delivering operational performance improvement
  • Readiness for change – realistic assessment of change capability
  • Integration of change agendas – incorporate changes to systems, business processes, organisation and work practices
  • Project management – use proven methodology, but adapt it to your needs
  • Involvement – ensure wide involvement in design and delivery
  • Communication – continual, and both formal and informal
  • Measurement – keep track on progress

Particular care needs to be taken when setting up the measurement criteria for change. If people are not involved in the setting of expectations, milestones and measures, then they do not become engaged. They therefore have less connection with the changes and often fail to deliver, personally and organisationally.

In summary

Effective change only occurs when there is a marriage between good leading and good managing.