The Four C’s of Leading Through Change

By Keisha A. Rivers, Chief Change Officer, The KARS Group LTD

Because change doesn’t occur in a vacuum, it impacts everyone that you come into contact with on a daily basis.  This means your friends, family, community, colleagues, team members and organization will feel the ripple effects of the change that impacts you.  Because you’re not an island, you must adopt what I call a “leading from within” approach.  This means that you see yourself and conduct yourself as a leader within your sphere of influence.

Crafting a successful approach to a change event requires a different type of leadership. This isn’t the time for a top-down or authoritarian approach. Change leadership is leadership from within.  It requires the input and support of everyone on the team to create success. When organizations are faced with unexpected events, uncertainty, chaos, and disruption, more often than not, most tend to mishandle the change event entirely.  Why is this considering how many books, articles, training, and certificate programs are devoted to change management?  If the answers are readily available, why do we still have issues with creating successful pathways through change to create long-term, sustainable results?

Organizations fail at responding to change events because they fail at the Four C’s required as a foundation for any change event: Clarity, Communication, Commitment, and Consistency. As a leader, when determining your organization’s response to change events, you must consider each of these areas and work with your people to create the vision of success and be able to act appropriately to bring it to life.

Clarity: Change events require clarity in message, focus, expectations, action, and accountability. If you are not clear about each of these areas, you set the stage for misunderstanding, and wasted time, effort, and resources.  People need to have a clear picture of whatever is being asked of them. The uncertainty and discomfort of change events can lead to chaos if you’re not careful.  Bringing clarity to the process enables you to unite the people on your team and within your organization for a common purpose.

Communication: In addition to clarity, change events require effective communication.  You have to communicate where you’re going, what needs to be done, what your shared vision is, and the actions that will be prioritized and implemented.  Additionally, clear communication ensures that everyone is on the same page as to expectations and responsibilities.  Open communication also provides an opportunity for people to share their journey and lend their voices to the process. Yes, there will be times when decisions are made by a leader or team and everyone else has to follow, but the way in which this is handled is critical to creating a culture of collaboration and support. When it comes to communication, transparency is key.

Commitment: Change events require commitment to the vision, direction, action, and follow-through for successful outcomes. Commitment and dedication must last beyond the initial threat and continue past the point of initial motivation.  The level of commitment by you and those on your team is the number one indicator of how successful you will be in navigating change events. You can’t pay lip service to change.  It is a process that requires all hands on deck.

Consistency: To maintain progress during the process of change, consistency is important. Once a plan of action has been outlined, you have to consistently show up and be prepared to do the work if you want to achieve your vision of success. Keep in mind that change is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Finally, doing the deep work of transformation within organizations requires leaders who develop other leaders.  It is important for you as a leader to extend your influence beyond your immediate reach and your time to create a ripple effect.  Leaders are measured by the caliber of leaders they develop, not the caliber of their own leadership.  The goal of a leader’s legacy is to have a broader impact on society and their organization even after they are gone.


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