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Lead Courageously Through Change

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, change is the only constant. 

Leading through such change, however, requires a particular set of skills and an understanding of both the psychological and emotional facets of organisational transformation. Leah Mether, an expert in the realm of leadership and change management, shares her invaluable insights on the subject in a recent podcast episode.

landscape of work

Leah, the author of "Soft is the New Hard" and "Steer Through the Storm," brings to the table her experiences with leaders in the power industry and her acute observations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic, a period of unprecedented change, has thrown many leaders into the deep end, testing their abilities to adapt and lead effectively through crisis and uncertainty.

The essence of Leah's philosophy on leadership is a delicate balance between empathy and accountability. She argues that a true leader must possess the soft skills often overlooked in traditional leadership models. Skills like communication and emotional intelligence are not just 'nice to have'; they are crucial for navigating the complexities of human responses to change. Understanding and communicating the "why" behind changes is essential for leaders, even if they do not fully agree with them. It is this transparency and alignment that foster trust and unity within teams.

In the podcast episode, Leah delves into the emotional and psychological responses to change, utilising the Kubler-Ross change curve and Maslow's hierarchy of needs as frameworks to better understand and manage these responses. Leaders must acknowledge that change often invokes a sense of loss, fear, and uncertainty among team members. Recognising the different stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance, and finding meaning—allows leaders to anticipate and address the varied reactions that their team members might experience.

Leah's "Five C's" of leading courageously through change are creating clarity, connecting with curiosity, challenging with candour, coaching with compassion, and committing with consistency. This framework provides leaders with actionable insights on how to approach change management in a structured yet empathetic manner. By creating clarity, leaders can help demystify change for their teams, making the unknown a little less daunting. Curiosity encourages leaders to ask the right questions, challenge the status quo respectfully, and reframe conversations towards actionable solutions.

The role of trust in leadership cannot be overstated, especially during times of crisis. Leah highlights the importance of role-modeling desired behaviours and maintaining trust within teams. Leaders must embody the change they wish to see, and through consistent behaviour, they reinforce the credibility of their message and the stability of their leadership.

The podcast episode also touches on the importance of self-compassion and having coping mechanisms in place. Leading through change is not only about guiding others but also about managing one's own well-being. Leaders are reminded to be kind to themselves and seek support when needed, creating a culture where vulnerability is not a weakness but a strength.

In conclusion, Leah's approach to leadership in times of change is both insightful and practical. Leaders must recognise that change is a multifaceted challenge that requires a balance of empathy and accountability. By understanding the emotional landscape of their teams, communicating effectively, and consistently modelling desired behaviours, leaders can steer their organisations through any storm. 


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