A recent meeting with a Chief Transformation Officer reminded me of the many challenges associated with gaining leadership support to drive change. Armed with a mandate to improve the client experience, this executive was still having difficulty getting the traction and attention needed to improve how the organization interacts with its clients. Without critical leadership support, she was worried about program funding being cancelled and the resulting impact on her career.
Spending most of her time putting projects in place, this chief executive made the common mistake of underestimating the time needed to win the support of the entire executive team and to align their roles in driving the client experience to the forefront of the organization. I advised her that she was underestimating the time needed to align the leadership team by a factor of 10.
If a senior management team is not engaged in a change initiative, the change will unlikely be sustainable over the long-term. Further, it is essential to engage the ‘collective’ leadership team when leading a large-scale initiative.
Jay Conger, recognized throughout the world as an expert on leadership, wrote in a recent article about the shifting paradigm of executive leadership development. “Today’s leading organizations have shifted emphasis from the individual leader to collective leadership capabilities. The most effective organizations are addressing strategic changes as a collective leadership team.”
Today, no one individual leader can accomplish much alone. Change requires a collective sense and a coordinated set of actions and activities. We cannot think about the client experience as the responsibility of one person such as the chief marketing officer or the head of operations. Change requires a collective responsibility and the support of all functions across an organization.
To elevate and align the support of your leadership team, implement these simple strategies:
- Recognize the need to engage the collective leadership team
- Don’t assume senior management knows their roles / responsibilities in driving change
- Train the leadership team at every stage of the change initiative—from infancy, to development, to implementation—to act collectively
- Plan for and address leadership resistance.
- Successful business leaders today understand the importance of improving the customer experience to business and financial success. Building the support of the leadership team is a critical element of success.