Transformation is a process, starting with the idea or impetus to change, going through the disruptions and emotions of the actual change, and ending when the transformation becomes business as usual.
At the heart of successful transformation is having the right leader. However, with each stage requiring different skills, experience and aptitude, can someone who leads you successfully through business transformation be a good leader once it is business as usual? Looking at the attributes of a good leader at each stage of the transformation, you realise that leadership is as much Who You Are as What You Know!
The Visionary Leader: Impetus to change
The person in charge of taking an idea and turning into something concrete must have vision, determination and belief in the transformation. Good ideas can die if they don’t have the right person to push them through and shape them into an implementable project plan. On a practical level, you need a leader who has a good internal network so that they can create promoters and supporters. They not only have to convince people with influence, but they also have to be inspirational enough to recruit the right team members to come and work for them. The job of this visionary leader is to create excitement, get buy-in and put all the preparation in place for the process of change to begin.
The Task Master: Period of change
This leader has to push people on when morale flags, make difficult decisions to achieve targets and reach deadlines, and remain focused on the desired end result. They must be the champion for their team when the rest of the business is critical, but drive that team on when they are failing to deliver. The Task Master has to be highly organised, maintaining an overview of all parts of the project, and excellent at negotiation in case additional resources or flexibility in deadlines are required. A tireless leader who will work all the hours required, and a relentless manager who expects the same dedication from the team, this may not be an easy person to work for, but they will make sure the change is a success.
The Line Manager: Business as usual
Business as usual needs a people manager who knows the HR processes, rewards good performance and tackles under performance. Someone who is conscious of the history of the change, and aware of future plans, but who focuses on the here-and-now of delivering to a high level and looking after the team. The Line Manager needs to be approachable, personable and have enough self-awareness not to get complacent, because the next change might be just around the corner.