6 ways leaders can reframe and better respond to change

leaders reframe

Override your fear of failure for the betterment of others. People are looking towards you to inspire and influence. Have the courage to test and learn, to stumble in your endeavors and to seek knowledge from those around. Individuals and teams love to share wisdom, solve tough problems and be there for one another, writes Ciara Lancaster, Change Fatigue and Resilience Specialist at Reimagine Change.

‘This is your captain, brace for impact’. These are words you never want to hear on an airplane. These are also words that a captain takes no joy in ordering. If you are currently responsible for leading your team through pandemic pressures, business transformation and change initiatives, this may be your current predicament. Perhaps you have noticed that ‘Next agenda item, business transformation’ is the workplace equivalent? Right?!

This fear inducing phrase is often followed closely by terms such as restructuring, reskilling and redeployment thanks to the rise of automation. The reality is that these are business imperatives and that means they are going to happen with or without you at the helm. It’s time to focus on what you can control and influence. You.

‘Mayday, mayday!’
According to Gartner, ‘leaders are having a crisis of confidence in themselves with only half of more than 2,800 surveyed reporting they are well-equipped to lead their organisation in the future’. Here’s where reframing can play a supportive role. In today’s high-pressure environment, reframing has become less about shifting your perspective and more about shifting your identity.

Here’s a sequence to explain why:

  • Organisational change requires cultural change
  • Cultural change requires behavioural change
  • Behavioural change requires identity change

This sequence is designed to get you thinking about personal transformation as an essential precursor to business transformation. Here, identity change is complimentary to the important work being done by transformation teams, process improvement specialists and change managers. It’s about building mental strength and emotional resilience before and during peak transformation and deployment periods.

Unless you are levelling up your change identity through self-leadership success strategies, you risk spiraling into the external chaos of change and limiting your potential.

From Change Survivor to Change Optimiser
Let’s now look at the two extremes for comparative purposes.

  • You are a Change Survivor – You are psychologically and physically battle-scarred by past and present change efforts. Your mind, body and spirit have surpassed cognitive overload, exhaustion and perhaps even hopelessness. You have either exited your industry or, at the very least, are ruminating about it.
  • You are a Change Optimiser – You are at the highest level of change leadership. You are directional with your energy, mindset and change trajectory. While others are entrenched in conservatism, co-dependency and compliance, the Change Optimiser’s core pillars are connection, collaboration and creativity.

Navigating uncertainty
Here are four expert areas that you can integrate into your self-leadership strategy.

1. Capacity
You are a human being, not a corporate robot. It is perfectly normal to have limitations and reach capacity. Self-management is essential when you devote your time between stakeholders, deliverables and direct reports. Self-management includes stress management (calm over chaotic), state management (change capable over change fatigued) and fear management (future-focused over fearful). Be aware that your ability to pre-empt possible challenges, obstacles and set-backs is a powerful advantage.

2. Competency
You are in the danger zone if you are you are a technical expert developing digital capabilities without human capabilities. With time and pressure, this will become a psychological constraint for you. Skill up now to prepare for uncertainty and enjoy the transition into the future of work. Think optimal brain health, compassion cultivation, emotional intelligence and creativity. Be accepting of what skills you require to balance the digital-human equation.

3. Capability
If you want to soar, release your excess baggage. Assess whether you are self-sabotaging with limiting self-beliefs or whether environmental triggers such as the absence of psychological safety, social connection or alignment to corporate values are weighing you down. When your capability waivers, reflect and draw upon examples of when you easily and successfully demonstrated your ability. Detail out what those ‘right’ conditions were. Then adapt your current environment and mindset to elicit ‘safe and secure’ feelings for nervous system regulation. Be action-oriented and allow your personal values to shine.

The reality is that these are business imperatives and that means they are going to happen with or without you at the helm. It’s time to focus on what you can control and influence. You.

4. Courage
Override your fear of failure for the betterment of others. People are looking towards you to inspire and influence. Have the courage to test and learn, to stumble in your endeavors and to seek knowledge from those around. Individuals and teams love to share wisdom, solve tough problems and be there for one another. Often this starts with better listening, better quality questions and better coaching for yourself and others. Be unapologetically you and remember that you’ve got this!

Unless you are levelling up your change identity through self-leadership success strategies, you risk spiraling into the external chaos of change and limiting your potential. As James Clear advised: ‘Your current behaviours are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). This is why it is so important to level-up and reimagine change within yourself first.

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