The Hidden Danger of Change Management

Here's the punch line: Great leaders are established by leveraging their influence to lead through big changes, not by delegating the management of those changes to someone else.

At some point in your career, you've worked for a truly great leader. And when it came time for a big change to happen at work, the leader basically said "Attention everyone: We're going to stop doing it this way, and start doing it that way." And guess what? Everyone, including you, started doing it that way. No fussing and fighting, no long "curve of adoption," no getting wrapped around the axle, and no huge hit to productivity.

Why?

Because you worked for a true leader, who--by definition--had followers and not just direct reports. You trusted their competence and their character, and you sensed that they had your best interests at heart. They spent more time getting you to feel good about your ability than getting you to feel good about their ability.

So when it was time for a major change to happen, the leader acted like a leader and led through the change. They didn't delegate it to the Change Management COE, to their HR Business Partner, or to a dedicated Change Management team on the initiative. Chances are they gave solid reasons why the change was necessary, what the end state would look like, and they leveraged their significant influence to make it happen. Quickly. Efficiently.

It seems that more and more people in leadership positions are delegating one of the most important aspects of leadership - that of leading through change - to a person, team or department. In doing so, they're missing out one of their greatest shots at practicing the art of leadership. That's because organizational change provides the perfect opportunity to perfect your leadership. Change Management experts can help, but they cannot own nor should they attempt to usurp the leader's role in the initiative.

Organizational change provides the perfect opportunity to perfect your leadership.

As a practitioner of change management, I know there are principles that make change easier and faster. But when I see leaders attempt to delegate change management to me or anyone else, I know they are taking the long, inefficient way to get through it and get on with it.