Where do we learn to lead change? For some of us, we start develop our skills in childhood. For me, team-based activities such as volleyball, precision figure skating, and marching band served as a significant learning laboratory for many of life’s lessons. I learned perseverance, sacrifice, leadership, and hard work. I also learned to help my teammates deal with challenges we faced such as changes in coaching and staff members, rules and regulations, and the turnover of team members.
For others, we learn to lead change through our professional experiences. Project management, a facet of so many of our jobs, is a natural foray into leading and managing change. We may not think of it that way, or have a label for what we are doing, but we are certainly attempting to muster support for a new way of working and help the organizations we serve become more effective. That takes a considerable amount of skill. Some seem to possess this skill naturally, while others need to learn and practice it more deliberately.
I’ve been working on a consulting project with a friend of mine, where we are supporting an organization that is establishing a new change management function. For the first time, accomplished leaders from around the organization have been brought together to formalize how the company leads and manages change. This group is establishing a common methodology, approach, and mindset for how it leads change, and how it will teach others to do so.
We have found that there are three sets of core competencies necessary for leading change:
- Consulting Process Knowledge
- Group Process and Dynamics
- Change Management Theory and Methods
Recently, Barbara Bunker and Dick Axelrod led a series of sessions at the Organization Development Network Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. They described work they were doing to build organization development competency in HR business partners with some of their clients. They too, found that the same set of core competencies was important for laying a foundation for leading and managing change.
What have you discovered from your own work? What do you believe is critical to becoming a change leader in your organization?