Employees require reassurance that they will be protected by astute, decisive leaders who know how to steer the company through tumultuous times. Overall level of confidence and support will determined by a leaders’ strategic instincts – and how they are communicated to followers. This requires accurate self-awareness.
Emotional concerns must be alleviated because the immediate impact of change is often quite negative. Emotionally astute leaders recognize there is always resistance, especially at the beginning of change initiatives. While emotional dynamics should be factored into change-management planning, they rarely are.
Your job is to provide hope while alleviating fear – not by denying it, but by predicting it, being honest about it and normalizing it. Successful leaders translate vision into action by explaining why a company is taking a new direction, as well as the consequences for failing to act.
Be honest when addressing why your company can no longer cling to the status quo. Your team member’s emotional desire for security will motivate them to accept changes that initially cause them to recoil. Focus on emotional benefits to make a clear case. You can subsequently invoke a sense of victory, ensure greater job security and get your troops excited about a fresh new direction. They will then be more receptive to rational analysis of facts and data.
Your message should be clear, simple, heartfelt and aligned with your company’s current emotional climate. To strengthen the impact of your words, incorporate body language and facial expressions.
The mark of great CEOs or team leaders is their ability to build teams where employees feel welcome to participate, collaborate and receive recognition. According to authors Kouzes’ and Posner’s worldwide survey on effective leadership (The Leadership Challenge), building a team environment that inspires employees to give their best requires three qualities:
These three qualities determine the effectiveness of a good leader. Employees need to know whether they trust their leaders enough to follow them so honesty always comes first. The ability to look forward helps people feel more secure about the direction in which they’ll be heading (provided they believe in a positive outcome).
Inspiration is not a form of vague charisma. Leaders must have the ability to inspire goodwill and hope. Foster positive feelings in those you lead – sooner, rather than later.
Tomorrow, we wrap up this series with an action plan.