Ten Tips for Leading Teams Through Change

The Automated Insurer | Leadership

By Mike de Waal | 11 October 2022

Key Points

Leadership is not easy, but it is essential for anyone looking to effect change in their organization. By following these tips, you can develop the skills you need to be a successful leader:

  1. Be visionary
  2. Be decisive
  3. Be communicative
  4. Be motivating
  5. Be adaptable
  6. Be authentic
  7. Be passionate
  8. Be coachable
  9. Be collaborative
  10. Be humble

With massive shifts in the workforce, economic uncertainty, and the majority of employees routinely feeling disengaged from their work, the need for strong leadership today is dire.

A lot has been said about leadership and change. Some people believe that leaders are born, not made. Others believe anyone can become a leader with the proper training and experience.

But what does it take to be a successful leader?

How can you lead change effectively in your organization?

Here are ten tips that can help you lead change within your domain:

1. Be visionary

“Chase the vision, not the money.” Tony Hsieh

Leaders need to have a clear vision for the future and be able to articulate it in a way that inspires others. For a leader to be visionary, they must be clear about the impact they want their organization to make in their community or industry. Without a vision, it’s difficult to set goals and create a roadmap for change.

77% of employees who feel they are aligned with the company’s purpose or vision are engaged, compared with only 20% of employees who are not aligned with the vision.

2. Be decisive

“The way to develop decisiveness is to start right where you are, with the very next question you face.” Napoleon Hill

Leaders need to be able to make tough decisions, even when there is no clear right or wrong answer. They also need to be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently, without dragging their feet.

Indecisive leadership can cost your organization as revenue opportunities can vanish if you don’t act quickly. Effective leaders can overcome emotional impulses and take a step back, assess a situation, and decide the course of action. Conversely, leaders that can’t control their emotions often make rash decisions that can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Making the wrong decision is inevitable; it happens to everyone. The key is to trust yourself, focus on how your decision impacts your company’s vision, and be ready to adjust if things do not go as planned.

3. Be communicative

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” Peter Drucker

Communication is critical for any leader. You need to be able to share your vision and goals with others and rally people to your cause. According to Vimeo, 1 out of 8 business professionals say their companies never communicate strategy updates.

To do this, you must communicate confidently and frequently with your employees, sharing good and, if necessary, bad news. This will inspire trust. Use these opportunities to take ownership and share your insights with the team.

Leaders also need to be able to listen to feedback and take it onboard. Try practicing active listening on all levels of the company. Give employees a space to share their ideas, perspectives, and opinions on company matters.

4. Be motivating

Leaders must create a positive and inspiring work environment to motivate others to achieve collective goals.

Granting autonomy to skilled employees helps motivate them to bring their best effort each day. When employees feel valued and cherished for their skills, perspectives, and personalities, they’re more likely to find fulfillment in their work.

In addition, it’s imperative to provide recognition and rewards for people who excel within the organization. Rules and punishments don’t inspire but rather keep people from doing their worst.

5. Be adaptable

Leaders must be able to adjust tactics and strategies to the ever-changing landscape. Leaders also need to be able to embrace change themselves and be role models for others.

Having a diverse workforce and culture is a great place to start. Diverse workforces have many different ways of thinking, allowing leaders and organizations to stay open to different perspectives and change.

In addition, get in the habit of actively seeking out new opportunities and trends. For example, look at how different industries are experimenting with new technology and listen to podcasts on topics you’re unfamiliar with. Continuously learning new trends and global perspectives can build an adaptable mindset and help you become more open to change.

6. Be authentic

People need to trust their leaders, and one of the best ways to build trust is by being authentic. They are true to themselves and display the same values through their actions and words that they expect from the rest of their team.

Authentic leaders must also be comfortable in their skin, have strong self-awareness, and understand their weaknesses, strengths, and values. By displaying your strengths and weaknesses to your team, you can show that you have nothing to hide. This way, you build trust among your team, and when an employee makes a mistake, they’ll feel more comfortable sharing their errors with you.

7. Be passionate

Passion is contagious, and leaders must be passionate about their vision for the future. This passion will inspire others and help them stay motivated through tough times.

Give your team some praise and congratulations to reignite their passion, and yours. Try taking your team out for lunch or organize a fun team activity like ziplining. When you celebrate achievements, you show that you’re getting closer to your vision.

8. Be coachable

No leader is perfect, and the best leaders are always learning and growing. They are open to feedback and willing to learn from their mistakes.

To be a coachable leader, you must be curious about your strengths and weaknesses, be hungry for feedback, and have an open mind. You can’t focus on being right all the time, but rather, focus on learning new things and listening to different perspectives.

Moreover, listen to the advice of your support group and advisors, and apply that advice to your business just like an athlete would use it in their game. In business, just like sports, coaching and advising are meant to take you out of your comfort zone and push you toward greater success.

Leaders should also be willing to invest consistently in their own development and that of their team members. Whether this takes the form of courses and programs or a difficult conversation to encourage professional development, you must prioritize learning and growth for yourself and your team.

9. Be collaborative

Leadership is not a one-person show. The best leaders know how to build and work with teams. They are able to delegate tasks and give others the credit they deserve. Leaders should also create an environment where different ideas can be shared and debated openly.

You must also give credit where it’s due and recognize the contributions of employees and teams. According to HubSpot, 69% of employees say they’d work harder if they were better appreciated. For example, if an employee comes up with a new idea that brings in new revenue opportunities, openly share credit with them.

10. Be humble

The best leaders do not have big egos. They know they cannot do everything independently and are not afraid to ask for help. They are humble and always looking to improve.

To be a humble leader, you must respect your employees’ time, ideas, and feedback and treat your team how you want to be treated. Try to respond quickly to your team’s questions and requests, ask questions, show up on time for meetings, and listen to their opinions. In addition, be accessible to your team, and don’t let someone’s rank or pay grade affect how you act around them.

Leadership is not easy, but it is essential for anyone looking to effect change in their organization. By following these tips, you can develop the skills you need to be a successful leader.

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Mike de Waal

Mike de Waal is president and founder of Global IQX, an Ottawa-based software provider of AI-driven sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers.  He has deep experience in both software development and business management skills. Early in his career, he worked as a computer programmer and then went on to become a financial planner and a benefits consultant with giant Manulife Financial before becoming a tech entrepreneur.  He can be reached at [email protected].