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Adapting to Changing Leadership

December 06, 2016

Changes in leadership are bound to occur at some point in your career, but dealing with any kind of change isn’t always easy. While some people are more adaptable to change than others, most people find themselves needing time to process what has happened. With that being said, it helps to become familiar with your reactions to change as you can better understand how you will adapt in future scenarios.

Originally post on Think IT.

Change in Leadership. This concept seems to be ubiquitous within corporations today, especially many of your IT departments. Whether you experience a change in leadership yourself, or you are the change; it can be a difficult piece to manage. For starters, you have to prove yourself all over again; and frankly, this is a separate challenge in itself! So, how do you adapt? This was an important question posed during last week’s Women in Leadership meeting as we discussed that very topic of Adapting to Changing Leadership.

Renee Heinbuch and Mary Texer began the session by sharing some great examples of recent changes, from the CEO at Wells Fargo stepping down to Delta’s Chairman of the Board retiring and Abbott Labs acquiring St. Jude Medical. With these acquisitions and changes in leadership happening on a consistent basis, there is so much change – from the culture to the people to attitudes.

From these examples, the women went on to share what Dr. Glenda Eoyang developed as the “Decision Map”. Within the Decision Map, you have your world view (background, education, and experiences brought into the decision process), reality (social expectations, guidelines, etc. that impact a decision) and rules (what is actually observed and its impact on the situation). A combination of your world view and reality create the rules you live by. But that decision map, too, can change. For example, take children coming home from college. They have created their own rules while away from home, yet the home rules haven’t changed. In the end, in order to “survive”, you will need to recreate the “new” reality and rules the family lives by. Similar to an organization, when a new leader enters the situation, it’s all new: new culture, new rules, and new expectations, and you have to adapt to survive. This is why Paul Zeller, former CFO of Imation, states: “I have learned you have to be a person who is willing to change, adaptable and take a very lifelong learning approach. I’m a very strong believer in kind of continuing to reinvent yourself. If you remain the person you were then you are probably purposed right for what we were, not who we’re becoming. So you have to be willing to change.”

As we have already discussed, change isn’t easy, but it necessary to adapt in healthy ways. During the group discussions, there were many great ideas shared on ways to adapt to changing leadership including the following:

  • Remember that there is more than 1 choice when change happens. You have the ability to choose if this specific change is worth it or whether it is time for you to move on.
  • Be a resource and “face it”! New leaders will need resources to help them navigate and also share the story of the team already in place. Could that be you? Break the ice!
  • “Know Thyself” – Know how you respond to change, and if necessary, take a step back and then react. Also be comfortable verbalizing your emotions to others – this demonstrates leadership, as does vulnerability.
  • As a leader, realize that everyone moves at a difference pace and allow them time to work through change on their own. Of course, there comes a point when change must happen, which is why transparency is also key.
  • Be sure to understand the new vision and the motivations of a new leader or the new team you are responsible for managing.

In the end, you can choose to be a part of the change, or fight it…but in the end, if you fight it too long, you may find yourself no longer part of it.

What have you found is helpful when a change in leadership occurs?

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Posted By: Jaclyn Roman


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