Afiniti Insights

Showing Up as an Active and Visible Change Leader

At Afiniti, we are regularly asked by our clients about being active and visible as Change Leaders. Many recognise that the skills and competencies required to run an effective business, unit or function do not necessarily translate into being an equally effective leader of change. So, what does make a great leader of change?

All change begins with leaders. They set the direction, the tone and role model behaviours, ‘walking the walk and talking the talk’. They are the greatest influencers, the primary change agents and they have people at the heart; they truly believe people are the superpower to propel the organisation forward and accomplish the vision.

Effective Change Leaders inspire, involve and interact with their communities. They demonstrate empathy, recognise the pain points and take action, putting themselves forward to align stakeholders and build strong relationships. They are prepared to be bold and brave in decision-making and negotiating to ensure the change is a priority, gets the right attention from senior leaders and has a common goal behind which the organisation can align.

Change Leaders create the vision

A major part of change leadership is being able to articulate the vision, inspire others to believe in that vision and collaborate to form a clear, compelling story that can be told consistently. That story has to be authentic, powerful and unifying in order to evoke a positive response and feeling of belonging that enables others to know how, when and where they can get involved and be part of the future. It can be creative [and fun], without detracting from the seriousness of key messages. You want a story that creates great energy and builds a positive reputation for the transformation.

That change story also helps to align senior leaders and surface any misalignment. The process of co-creating the story is powerful, educational and for many, represents a great development opportunity. It has to contain just the right amount of detail [what’s in it for me] whilst connecting the whole system to tell the whole story. See a great example of the power of a compelling narrative in this recent case study on a data strategy roadmap.

The Change Leader is a potent communicator, intuitively using every conversation to inspire and engage while actively listening to address resistance – tacit or explicit – as it emerges. What the Change Leader says is important, but how the messages are delivered is vital. By that, we mean how things are said, how you deliver, how you act in and out of meetings and how you show up and role model. All of this influences a leader’s ability to inspire and engage their communities. An effective Change Leader seeks commitment and creates multipliers of the change, driving adoption for new ways of thinking and working.

Common Change Leader challenges

A common challenge we see Change Leaders face is making and keeping their transformation a priority at the senior level, and keeping fellow leaders aligned with it, especially in the face of competing initiatives or the demands of day-to-day business activity. The knock-on effect of these battling priorities can extend to resources, budget, attention and agenda time.

Transformation is not always obvious to all, and retaining alignment among the senior leader community takes sustained effort and energy, so investing in building and maintaining relationships is key.

Good versus great Change Leaders

Great Change Leaders are trusted, bold and brave, with courage in their convictions. They make data-driven, informed decisions. They are knowledgeable, credible and ooze gravitas. Their passion is evident and infectious, because they absolutely believe in what they’re doing, and they care deeply about their people. They know their vision will result in the organisation becoming a better, healthier, happier place to work.

And at the same time, they demonstrate empathy, warmth and integrity so that people believe they’re genuinely at the heart of what the organisation is trying to accomplish. A great Change Leader is accessible and always willing to share knowledge and learnings, intentionally developing capability in others.

Empathy breeds trust, and a leader has to be trusted, especially when driving change. Once you can confidently and passionately tell your story about the change, it will be much easier for you to show up as a Change Leader, help others through their challenges and build trust.

Great Change Leaders make the difference

I’ve been very fortunate to work with some incredible business transformation leaders. They really invest in their own development and capabilities and have incredible capacity, strength and knowledge to utilise various frameworks and methods, combining these with empathy to get the job done and achieve results.

It’s such a privilege to work with leaders who share our values, put their people at the heart and believe change is a force for good that, done well, can be one of the best experiences ever. 

If you’d like to learn more about what it means to be a Change Leader and to tell us about your transformation, I’d welcome a conversation. Please do get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Corrina Jorgensen
Corrina Jorgensen
Senior Partner
Corrina’s passion is in change management, using creative and innovative ways in which to engage and actively connect with the audience. As Managing Partner, Corrina has held Board level appointments for the past 15 years and is now with her third company with the same investors.
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