Leading and managing change

I went to a number of events last week which centred on leading and managing change, and they have set me thinking. We had an excellent event for our elected Members on Tuesday, during which we discussed the digital and People Helping People programmes. I then spent a fascinating morning presenting at an event for Staffordshire digital businesses with Alun Rogers, Co-founder of Risual, one of our fastest growing digital businesses. Lastly, but by no means least, I sat in on the event on Friday for our Change Champions in County Buildings.

These outwardly very different events all had a common thread, namely how to lead and manage change in a large and diverse organisation such as our own.  We all have a different appetite and readiness for change, and the first trick, if there is one, is to bring those less happy with change along without slowing down the pace.  Recognising that those who fear and resist change are usually doing so out of a wish to protect themselves and the organisation is a good start for leaders.  I have found that it helps enormously in bringing them along on the journey.

Most senior leaders have risen through organisations in the modern Western Model because they are content with uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity; those who prefer to stay in the operator level often prefer clarity and certainty.  In every large organisation, there is a level at which the leader must take the strategic uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity and translate it into tactical clarity and certainty. I sense that level sits at the Wider Leadership Team in Staffordshire County Council, and that is why I’m investing so heavily in bringing them into the planning process for our strategy and MTFS.  The sessions that we have had have surpassed my expectations and hopes.

As we work towards what is an exciting, but frankly uncertain, future, we need to be agile and confident to keep up with the pace of change.  We will achieve that much more effectively by communicating, listening and understanding.

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