Every new year and new business quarter bring with it numerous organizational imperatives – this, of course, is a dizzying result of the rapid changes and developments that companies undergo in today’s corporate climate.

In terms of importance, leadership development and change management definitely rank high for most companies – understandably so.  Albeit, despite the weighty prominence of these two objectives, many companies don’t seem to be keeping track or even meeting said objectives.

According to this 2013 survey of “Leadership Development Benchmarking”, it was revealed that leadership agendas are deficient of value.

The following are some troubling insights:

  • 75 percent of the respondents to this study stated their leadership development programs are not very effective
  • Only 18 percent of programs two years or less are considered very or extremely effective while 38 percent of programs older than five years are seen as that effective

Distressing statistics to say the least.

By extension, this failure of establishing solid leadership development programs also profoundly affects the successful cultivation and implementation of change management processes. Simply put, organization and cultural changes cannot come into fruition without effective leadership.

With that said, why do organisations seem to be missing the mark?

Well, here are two educated guesses to should hopefully shed light on this problematic inquiry.

  • Treating leadership development and change management as mutually exclusive entities

    Most companies tend to treat these objectives as two separate units. In fact, leadership development and change management are two sides to the same coin – one depends on the other to be successful.

  • Thinking change management is the sole responsibility of C-suite managers

    Another blunder most businesses make is thinking that the primary obligation of implementing change management is squarely saddled on just the shoulders the senior level executives.

    On the contrary, managers at all levels of the company have an equal stake and should feel the same level of accountability when it comes to facilitating cultural and organisational change.

With these two culprits identified, how then can companies go about rectifying these issues? Specifically, how can they go about integrating their change management and leadership development objectives, and divorcing members of staff from the notion that they have no involvement with championing change management efforts?

The proposed suggestion: executing a tactic that is indeed bottom-up and top-down.

Let me explain.

Bottom-up process
For this portion of the solution, all the managers (at all levels of the company) put the desired organizational change within real-life and everyday context so they can better understand the consequences of the said change.

What this bottom-up process does is that it provides organizations with a litmus test that determines the viability of an intended change management effort – they then quickly find out if the new policy is one that is great theoretically, but abysmal realistically.

Such learning and discovery are then funneled back up to upper-level management, which then enables them to make the required tweaks and alterations to the intended change mandate.

Top-down process
After upper-level management have thoroughly analysed the feedback, (gleaned from the low to mid-level executives, and made the necessary adjustments to the proposed organizational or cultural change), they then find key people within the organization - who don’t necessarily have to be also C-suite executives; they could be an enthusiastic low-level employee - to clearly communicate and actively engage in the championing of the revised leadership development change management policies.

By embarking on these two remedial tactics, companies ensure that their proposed strategies for the development of leadership and management of change are not only effective for their internal audiences, but also their external clients.

Written by Pip Spibey-Dodd @ Locomote  

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