Effectively Leading Organizational Change


As a leader, the decision to make organizational, structural or strategic changes to keep up with the changing marketplace is the easy part. It is much more challenging to convince people to get on board or follow your lead. Change is not easy, but it is required.

Change is normal; just take a look at nature. Our world is continually going through the process of change and growth. You may have heard the saying, “Growth without change is impossible.” We cannot expect sustained growth without being consistent in our development. We cannot always control change but we can control our response to it. 

Why is it so hard to embrace change? Change is an emotional process. We are creatures of habit who usually resist change and welcome routine. The unknown, or uncertain, can be scary. I have heard it said that when old patterns or habits are broken then new and better worlds emerge.

Staying the same leads to mediocrity and these days mediocre organizations will not survive for long. I believe organizational change is the key that can unlock doors of growth, efficiency, increase profit and engaged employees. Our job is to convince our team that the “new world” we are trying to create is better than the one we are currently operating in. Here are a few tips for inspiring change:

1. Begin by letting go of outdated beliefs. Walk away and forget about how we have always done things, and then ask, how we can more efficiently achieve our desired results. Peter Drucker said, “It is easier for companies to come up with new ideas than to let go of old ones.”

2. Be honest and evaluate your current position. Change what needs changing and not what is easy to change.

3. Ask your best people to tell you what they think. Before the completion of your “New World”, new vision, direction or organizational change, get your brightest and best people involved in the planning process. “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” — Anonymous

4. Past success does not guarantee future success. We often hold on to the outdated methods because they brought us success at one time. Our once valid beliefs and practices may have outlived their usefulness. Innovation is the secret to winning the race.

5. Simplify your message. I recently read a story about Roberto Goizueta, the former CEO of Coca-​Cola. In 1979, Goizueta was promoted to president, and then in 1981 became the company’s chairman. During that sixteen-​year span, it is reported that Goizueta created more wealth for shareholders than any CEO in the company’s history. He also made Coca-​Cola the most prominent trademark in the world. Roberto’s success is attributed to his ability to encapsulate complex ideas and present them in a concise and compelling style. He was best known for his often repeated description of Coke’s infinite growth potential. He said, “Each of the six billion people on this planet consumes on average sixty-​four ounces of fluids daily, of which only two ounces are Coca-​Cola.” Closing the sixty-​two-​ounce gap became the centerpiece of inspiration and motivation within the company. Simple message, extraordinary results.

By inspiring organizational change you can transform the environment, uplift attitudes and achieve results while sustaining growth in an ever-​changing world.