Mastering Change: 8 Steps for Aligning Top Leadership for Change

Mastering Change: 8 Steps for Aligning Top Leadership for Change
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Mastering Change: 8 Steps for Aligning Top Leadership for Change
Orchestrating successful organizational change requires more than just a compelling strategic plan or a shift in business practices. It demands aligning top leadership for change to guide those affected by change through the inevitable ups and downs of organizational transformation. The data on successful organizational change management is pretty bleak – by most accounts 70% of all organizational change efforts fail to deliver expected results.


We know from change management simulation data that most leaders do not have the skills needed to successfully lead change.  And we know from our leadership simulation assessment data that most leaders also do not know that they lack the necessary change management consulting skills because most people in the organization are not willing to tell them.  That is a shame.  While leaders are often experienced in day-to-day operations, they are often inexperienced in taking an organization in radically new directions that require new ways of working , thinking, and behaving.

8 Steps for Aligning Top Leadership for Change
Aligning top leadership for change requires that the leadership team understands that leading change requires a different role and style of leadership.  Effective change requires leaders to set the direction and context for change and then to step back and let the whole organization evolve under the direction of Change Leaders and Change Teams.

Here are the main steps for aligning top leadership for change:

  1. Understand the Vision for Change
    Effective change starts with a clear and compelling vision for change. Top leadership must be unified in their understanding of why change is necessary and what the desired outcome looks like. This shared vision for change serves as the guiding star to align the decision making and efforts of the entire organization.

    Can your leaders have an open dialogue about the vision for change until they are on the same page?

  2. Earn Stakeholder Buy-In
    Change initiatives are doomed to fail without the support of key stakeholders, especially those most affected by the desired changes. It’s crucial to cultivate buy-in from key stakeholders early and often by emphasizing the benefits of the proposed changes and addressing any concerns or objections they may have. Those who are personally invested in the success of the transformation are more likely to champion it to their peers.

    Do your leaders know how to actively involve key stakeholders during change to ensure that they are all onboard?

  3. Build Trust and Transparency
    Leadership trust is the cornerstone of effective leadership, particularly during times of change. Leaders must foster psychological team safety and a culture of transparency if they want employees to feel comfortable enough to express their true thoughts and concerns. By actively involving people in the change strategy and design process and by openly sharing information about what is happening, leaders can mitigate uncertainty and build confidence in the organization’s direction.

    Can your leaders build enough organizational trust and transparency to pull off a major change initiative?

  4. Empower Leaders at Every Level
    While top leadership sets the strategic direction, successful change requires buy-in and involvement at all levels of the organization. Empower middle managers and frontline supervisors to function as change agents within their respective teams. Provide them with the tools, resources, and authority they need to drive change initiatives forward and support their teams through the transition.

    Can your executives empower leaders at every level to make change in a way that makes sense to them and their teams?

  5. Lead by Example
    Actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to leadership. Top executives must lead by example, demonstrating their commitment to the change effort through their words and deeds. This includes actively participating in change initiatives, modeling the desired behaviors, and making tough decisions that align with the organization’s vision — even if it is not in their own personal best interests.

    Are your leaders consistently and visibly walking the talk?

  6. Foster a Culture of Agility
    For organizational change to last, top leadership must cultivate a workplace culture that embraces change and innovation so that employees can adapt quickly to new challenges and opportunities. By fostering a growth mindset and rewarding experimentation, leaders can create an environment where change becomes not just tolerated but embraced.

    Can your leaders encourage the agile mindsets at work required to successfully navigate change?

  7. Ensure Continuous Communication and Feedback
    Effective change communication is essential throughout every stage of the change process. Top leadership should regularly communicate updates, milestones, and successes to keep employees informed and engaged. Additionally, they should actively seek feedback from employees at all levels and listen attentively to their unique concerns and ideas. By actively soliciting honest input from those most affected by change, leaders can identify potential roadblocks and make course corrections as needed.

    Can your leaders effectively communicate during change?

  8. Measure Change Progress and Celebrate Wins
    For change to occur, it’s essential that leaders track progress along the way. Effective change catalysts establish clear metrics and milestones to regularly assess performance against agreed upon benchmarks. They also celebrate small victories to maintain change momentum, boost morale, and reinforce the positive impact of the changes being implemented.

    Do you leaders know how to measure change progress and celebrate quick wins?

The Bottom Line
Aligning top leadership for change is a critical step in driving successful transformation. But agreement on the need to change is only the beginning.  Top leaders must have the right change leadership skills, knowledge, and attitudes to see the change through to fruition.  Changing habits or creating new ones is one of the toughest parts of making change stick.  How does your top leadership team stack up?

To learn more about aligning top leadership for change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Successful Change Leadership

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