The new year is upon us, and with it often comes unexpected changes: new jobs, new partners, new friends, surprises and unexpected challenges. Change happens to us as individuals and to our organizations. The most effective leaders embrace change as a reality and prepare their organizations for it.

As a leader, you should assume a certain amount of change in your business, strategy, culture and people. From a leadership perspective, you want to build your employees’ capacity to be able to adapt to change. When leaders proactively and routinely prepare for change, the result is a strong organization ready to deal with change whenever it comes. Waiting to deal with the change until it actually occurs can be incredibly challenging — even for the best leaders.

At its heart, change is unpredictable.

Make sure the leaders you have in place are comfortable with ambiguity, are looking ahead and reading the horizon, and are resilient enough to get back up when they get knocked down. Create some breathing space in your organization that allows people the extra time or energy necessary to acclimate to unexpected challenges. The places we go wrong when it comes to leading through change is not leading around it at all or expecting that change isn’t going to happen. Your role as a leader is to plan for what you can and prepare for what you can’t.

When InnerWill works with an organization, it’s often to facilitate change – be it a culture change or a strategic change. We help organizations plan for that change and think about how they can influence and ensure employees are confident to follow them as they travel on this new journey. We also help leaders build the skills they need to deal with unexpected surprises and adjust their vision to successfully navigate through change.

Many of our clients are trying to get their arms wrapped around change.

Change is happening at an exponentially faster pace than ever before, and the sooner you can start communicating and influencing the better. The sooner you can make employees aware that change is coming and get them thinking about how to tackle it, the better. Everybody in your organization needs to understand broadly what the change is and how it’s going to potentially affect them.

Often when we stumble or make a mistake, we don’t bring people in soon enough and we don’t empower them enough to take part of the process. Seize the opportunity now engage employees in the process and get their input, encourage buy in, lead with a vision, and build organizational momentum for the change. Have the courage to be honest about the future while providing high-direction and inspiring success. Be positive about what’s possible but be realistic too. And if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.

How will you embrace the change the new year brings?

Author

Tom Epperson

Tom Epperson

Dr. Tom Epperson is the President of InnerWill, and an instructor in Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program. Tom is a certified business coach and has a Doctorate in Leadership from The George Washington University. Tom works with clients on cultural transformation, leadership development, executive coaching, and igniting individual and organizational potential. Previously, Tom served as the HR Director for Luck Companies, and played a significant role as one of the architects of Luck Companies’ cultural transformation.