The Globe and Mail: Six ways to lead in times of change

ATN-300InsightaaS: One of the interesting trends that I’ve observed over the past few months is a focus on the importance of change, or more accurately, the importance of overcoming what’s viewed as a natural reticence towards change. Some of these observations are humourous, like the cartoon in which a speaker sees every hand in the crowd he’s addressing raised when he asks “who wants change?” and sees no hands at all when he follows by asking “who wants to change?”. Other posts make the point that change is inevitable, and that adapting to it is a necessity. Today’s feature, drawn from the Globe and Mail website, stands out in this group: in it, Peter Aceto, president and CEO at Tangerine Bank (formerly known as ING Direct, and now a subsidiary of Scotiabank) discusses six insights that he has gleaned while leading the bank through a period of great change.

After acknowledging the “incredibly helpful” input he received from author Simon Sinek, Aceto describes his ‘lessons learned’ from his experience as a change leader. On their own – or even collectively – the items themselves aren’t revolutionary; Aceto urges leaders to “inspire change,” to avoid the temptation to share only good news, to “provide genuine support” by staying abreast of difficulties encountered by staff, to “make it relevant” by being clear about “possibilities for career development…opportunity and growth potential,” to consider communication an ongoing requirement, and to share information on progress.

What makes this article worthwhile is the fact that it conveys, clearly and concisely, what a real-world leader has learned from real-world experience. Too often, the guidance we get with respect to issues like “change” reflect the big-picture view of commentators, but not the experience gained by dealing with the issue on a day-to-day basis and in the context of the lives that are affected. Aceto acknowledges that he made mistakes through this process, but adds that “All we can do as leaders is be transparent about our actions and learn to improve. What we cannot do is deny the advantages of change.” Coming from a consultant, these words lack substance; coming from Aceto, they reflect both the benefits of the destination and the pressures of the journey. 

We all perceive change differently: what is 10 per cent uncertainty or discomfort to one is 100 per cent chaos to another.

This is a sentiment I’ve shared before and it’s worth repeating. What I won’t delve into is the fact that change is guaranteed. You all know this to be true, or at least I hope you do. Instead, I’d like to address a more relevant topic, which is how leaders can best help employees cope with change.

I had the fortune to chat with Simon Sinek as he was promoting his new book Leaders Eat Last, and asked him specifically about leading in times of change.

His answer was incredibly helpful, at a time when I personally needed some reassurance as I led our team at Tangerine through a change of ownership. He said: “Share whatever information you have as quickly as possible, as openly as possible, even if you can only say a little … say it.”

This was wonderful advice that I certainly followed, but did I get it entirely right? Not all of it. Here are some insights from my experience in leading change:

Inspire change

What makes change initiatives come alive is when you take your employees on the journey of where you are today and where you intend to be tomorrow…

Read the entire post on the Globe and Mail website: Link

Hat tip to Lynn Greiner for calling attention to this in a post in the IT Insight Exchange LinkedIn group.



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