HFL conducted more than 300 interviews with senior executives in the past 12 months, as part of assignments. The purpose of many of these interviews was to understand what these senior executives felt were the critical skills for senior leaders to master. One of the consistent themes to emerge from this interview process – almost regardless of organisation size or sector – was the ability to successfully lead change.
Most leadership development programs HFL have run in the past decade have centred on the regulation three pillars – lead self, lead others, and lead business. In the past 2 years a fourth pillar has been added – lead change.
Most of our clients are undergoing profound ongoing change, and require us to help their existing and emerging leaders to be catalysts for change, lead change initiatives, and be more embracing of change that is happening to them.
Interesting note: Most senior leaders interviewed say that most leaders in their organisation are poor at leading change. They believe that a significant across-the-board improvement in capability in this area is required if their organisations are to prosper in the next five to ten years. Some of those interviewed believe that very senior leaders of long standing in the business are likely to be most resistant to change, and poor at leading change; and to make matters worse, this senior cohorts may also be the least likely to realise these shortcomings.
HFL has developed and delivered a series of services in the change domain:
• Leading change modules – ranging from half day to two day programs, working with leadership cohorts, or whole teams facing change, to understand how change happens, how to lead change, how to maximize commitment and buy-in from groups affected by change, and how to manage personal resilience.
• Change leader programs – we have designed and delivered a specific program to prepare existing emerging leaders to lead change programs.
• Change leadership profiling services – are the leaders your organisation is about to appoint actually well aligned (personality, cognitive ability, and existing skills) to lead change for you effectively? Our customised psychometric change profile, and specialist development centres can provide critical data on the extent to which leaders are ready to lead change, and inform accelerated development programs to get them ready.
• Strategic change facilitation – increasingly, HFL’s senior consultants are being asked to facilitate discussions by executive teams and divisional teams on how to construct a change agenda, what should be on the change agenda and why, and how to successfully execute a change program from the human point of view.
This is a critical development area for most leaders in most of our clients. The capabilities that are generally linked to effective leaders of change are some of those that leaders often struggle with most: emotional intelligence, dealing with ambiguity, very high level communications skills, creativity, ability to foster an innovative environment, and the ability to motivate and inspire individuals and teams. (Of course there are many more capabilities which are mentioned in the vast body of work that surrounds the successful leading of change.)
There is a clear agenda: leadership programs that don’t focus significantly on leading change will not be providing the “delivering change” capability that the business leaders say their organisations need.