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  • Writer's pictureKait Dinunzio

Readiness to Lead Change

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

read·i·ness /ˈredēnəs/


1. the state of being fully prepared for something. 2. willingness to do something.


Being fully prepared for something ... When was the last time you were fully prepared for anything this world has thrown at us?

When we consider readiness in terms of life, we have our own process that we go through. In a lot of cases, many of us aren't even prepared for some of the major life milestones we experience. Then there is readiness at work - readiness to embrace change, dive into a new strategy or change the way we show up to get different or better results in our lives and relationships.

When we look at change readiness in Helios, we look at four main categories:

  • Stakeholder engagement and communication

  • Change Readiness (the overall structure of the change plan)

  • Capability and performance

  • Leadership

We dashboard these out for leaders, and after working through the main diagnostics, this becomes what our Change Leadership team uses as the benchmark to progress and develop ongoing tactics to bring people along the change curve. It's our "Blueprint" for the change, if you will.

In this 73 year-old practice, there is still such a high failure rate for change initiatives, and I believe that it's because people like to theorize and talk about strategy and methodologies, language, etc. versus just getting down to business and throwing the first stone to see what will happen. (People really do love the debate ... and in some instances, really love the sound of their own voice.)

Listen, I think there is a time and a place for everything (and yes, language matters guys, I get it), but if you're spending 3/4 of your strategy time talking about things like whether to refer to your plan as change management or change leadership, you've lost the thread of why you're in the organization doing the work you're doing.

Change is a quick-paced, service-driven industry - if you can't be there for the people, then what are you doing there?

Anyone can go to a three-day course on how to manage change and come out with a certificate of recognition, but it doesn't mean you're competent nor effective in execution. There was a period of time when change was a very hot market, and change management courses were pumping people out left and right .... and industry ended up with a bunch of people running around with clipboards, toolkits, and the personalities of tube socks. That doesn't promote the practice, and in fact, it lent negative energy to those of us who have made an impactful career out of change.

So, how does this link to readiness?

You're not ready for change if you're unaware, lack influence, and the ability to activate.

To be effective, Change Leaders need the ability to influence and work with all levels of an organization; they need to be unleashed and trusted. Change Leaders shouldn't have to ask to perform their role, which means that organizations must invest in the professionalization and ongoing leadership/skill development of their change-focused workforce if they want to lead impactful change. You need to have someone in the driver's seat of your change strategy who has the leadership capability, knowledge, and skills to be able to recognize and plan to close gaps in the four areas of engagement. Having a strong, trusted player in this space allows meaningful interactions with the change for all stakeholders, including your Steering Committee, Sponsorship, Project Team, Subject Matter Experts, and impacted stakeholders.

Here are some things to look for in your search to find a motivating and passionate Change Leader, through the readiness lens:

  • Find someone who is creative and innovative in their process and their practice - as Einstein said, "Creativity is intelligence having fun" - someone who is creative and innovative will break boring or ineffective norms in how you engage with people. Give stakeholders something to look forward to and enjoy during change!

  • Look for self-confidence and someone who can speak with conviction in what they're working on and how and why it will make the lives of impacted stakeholders better. Innovation and enthusiasm sells change!

  • Seek a Connector - your Change Leader needs to be able to connect with individual contributors and leaders across the organization to be able to be able to say the hard stuff when the time comes - you know, the stuff people don't want to hear.

  • They also need to be able to hear the hard stuff and should understand and be willing to mitigate conflict. If they take everything personally, they're not going to be a great fit for the role, because a lot of the time, stakeholder feedback isn't personal - and when it is, you need someone humble enough to own their mistakes, or strong enough to walk toward the roar of accountability.

  • Find someone who is emotionally and socially intelligent - make sure they can read between the lines and know when to have fun and when to be serious.

  • And lastly, identify candidates who are structured and organized, with a strong attention to detail - this can lend big credibility to your change program if you have someone who is able to define and live within a structure (recognizing when to be flexible and when to be rigid), and are organized and purposeful with their interactions and follow through.

Want to talk about your change leadership approach or Unicorn resourcing strategy? Let's get together - a phone call doesn't cost a thing!

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