Leading Change as the New Norm: Priority Leadership Attribute for 2015

That everything is changing is understood by most business leaders. That the speed and velocity of change are increasing is perhaps less well understood. Change is no longer about a single project to transform a single business focus area. It is about multiple activities with a horizontal impact across the whole business: and of course, this is happening on a constant basis. As a business leader, you can no longer bring in one expert or group thereof, at one time, to lead one change project. You must now see change as key leadership attribute, adopt an adaptive mindset, encourage adaptiveness amongst through around you, become and embed being adaptive everywhere. 

Leading change as the new norm is a very different concept from the idea that leading change is the new norm.  The first is about consistency, repeatability and forms part of the daily - yes, and we do mean daily - consideration for business leaders and the workforce as a whole.  The second implies something that is done perhaps in isolation, when all the forces are in place and when there is a consensus that a single, possibly large investment project is agreed to be a business priority.

Leading change as the new norm is about understanding that those key forces that once required single project focus, such as a change in customer behaviour or demographic, no longer work. Today change is happening in all these and more areas, all the time.

If as business leaders we do not seek, assess and act on these changes, Darwin’s survival of the fittest comes into play: those that adapt will survive; those that don’t will perish. This is not new in science, of course, and, it’s not new in business.

Back in 2002 J Wilson III published ‘Leadership in the Digital Age’ where he said that it needed new attitudes, skills and knowledge.

This year, 2015, is going to be a defining year. Businesses must have the foundation blocks of digital business in place such as infrastructure and social engagement in order to take advantage of the more subtle technologies like Internet of Things, gamification and virtual reality.

So, if you’re leading change as the new norm, you need simultaneously to imagine, direct and effect constant and multiple change around you.  You also need to build your business on its human aspects rather than on the spreadsheets and numbers you have used up until now. That means thinking about people as a whole, not just statistics, not just your customer, not even audiences.  A really key leadership attribute for 2015 is the understanding of people as participants regardless of who they are or where they sit; either internal or external.

If you are a business leader or aspire to become one in today’s digital world your number 1 priority is to support and nurture the ability to lead and manage change as the new norm for other leaders around you and find ways to empower the wider workforce to do the same. Combine this with business basics mentioned earlier and you will equip leaders and wider teams to thrive in a world that is digital.

It's time to adapt or to become extinct. It's time to get personal. Start strong. Engage socially. 

These thoughts and musings are taken from various blogs and Whitepapers by Mel Ross, CEO Adapt2Digital.