Change is not easy.  Change however is often necessary in order to improve the life we live and things we do.  Even the word “change” conjures up all kinds of different feelings for every person.  For a leader, change is part of what they do and so a good leader must have a solid process and set of steps to make change happen.  A leader must identify the need for change, drive what is necessary to make it happen, inspire those around them to follow and then carry enough momentum to see it through, while celebrating and recognizing any results along the way.  In fact each of these steps deserve a lot more detail and they are the foundation of this article on driving change.

Step 1: Identify the Need for Change

First, great leaders are gifted at identifying the need for change.  Whether its because of their surroundings jumping out at them and just screaming for help, or a subtle cue that they see and no one else does, leaders are great at identifying change.  This ability often comes by developing an objective perspective, even for their own life or surroundings.  It lets them separate their circumstances that clouds their judgment and allows them to ask questions that identify an opportunity.  That opportunity, no matter how great or small, lies behind some change before it can be reached.  Seeing that opportunity is the first step to change.

Step 2: Taking On the Change

Next, a leader must be willing to step up and take on a change.  There are lot of people who might see the need for change and stop short, scared at the effort, the risk or the journey to make it happen.  Taking on change takes courage and anytime courage is at play, there has to be some risk involved.  Change will not happen on its own and leaving something up to others is usually what creates the difficult circumstance that needs a change in the first place, since that is what most people do.  To make change happen, you must be willing to take on the change directly and face the challenge in doing do.

Step 3: Drive The Change

Willingness is not all it takes however.  While the courage to face it will be the start, perseverance to drive the change will be a much longer, tiring journey and is another crucial component to getting through the barriers of change.  Sometimes this means leading by example, other times it may be to stand up for someone or something that others are scared to do, and it might even mean a lot of time and labor poured in to get started changing things.  Whichever it is, driving the change is needed and a great leader knows this.

Step 4: Inspire Others to Follow the Change

Driving the change can only last so long without help and no matter how strong a leader is, they are even stronger with their followers and at some point, will have to rely on others to help them.  This might be right from the start or it might be after some barriers are eliminated to help others see light at the end of the tunnel, but along the journey, leaders must inspire others to gain help.  I’ve written before on many ways to inspire others and a leader will have to do so to develop followers.  Being consistent, expressive, positive and welcoming can definite inspire new followers, especially when a leader does those things by example in areas they are passionate about and noble causes.

Step 5: Create Momentum for Change

Creating momentum for change requires that same perseverance it takes to start and drive the initial changes, but now at a larger scale with any followers on board to help make things happen.  Keeping follows inspired and putting the effort behind any changes will require continuous effort and all the things it takes to inspire people in the first place but be maintained and emphasized to keep the momentum going.  Communicating the progress is important as well for showing momentum and you will likely have to start by communicating the size of the effort and as it ramps up, use that to show momentum, especially since progress or results may not be seen in the early days.

Step 6: Recognize Results

Once more efforts are being put it, it will not take long for there to be some results.  Of course, they will not be the end results and change you are after, but it is very important to identify early on any progress that is made.  These might be considered as major milestones or barriers to overcome.  It could be expansion or support levels.  Perhaps funding, ideas or collaboration that never existed before the movement.  Whatever is underway, its important to stop and recognize the results.  Recognition is there to keep the momentum as well.  Make sure that individuals are recognized for specific actions and behaviors.  Recognize in ways that re-enforce the messages needed to drive more change and continue to build momentum.  Use recognition as a way to inspire more followers and continue to build the expand all efforts toward the change.  A strong cycle of inspiration, momentum building and recognition is an incredible force for driving change.

Step 7: Celebrate the Change

Not only should the progress of effort be recognized, but even more important is to celebrate any noticeable change itself.  Change never happens all at once and so there will be people who change first, or perhaps areas or regions that change first, or even small changes that occur on the journey to a larger change.  Each of these small elements are crucial to celebrate to ensure that the change is an example to everyone who sees it and that the change is something that proves the results you are after.  Promoting whatever change does occur is another way to build momentum as well, especially among skeptics who need to see before they can believe!

Step 8: Share Your Story

And finally, sharing your story of change should be done to give others insight into what challenges were overcome, how the change was driven and all the methods used to implement it (such as the steps in this article).  Sharing the knowledge of how to implement change obviously others to repeat that both with the same kind of change (which is really building more momentum), but also to apply those tools to a completely new area, one that need change as well.  It sparks leaders and inspires people to take on their own areas of change and it can teach people how to do it.

So, I hope these steps can be used for your next change initiative and I’d love to hear if you’ve used these before or if you have some additional steps that really help to drive change in your leadership.  If so, please share them with others.

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