The Cs of change

3 min read


The ability to see a bold future, build a compelling vision and define a strategy to achieve it is core to leadership. Making that vision happen almost always requires change. And, successfully navigating others through change requires leaders who are skilled in the “Cs of Change:”

Clarity: Defining clear vision, structure and actions to achieve the goals. Unlike the fictional character who “flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions,” after a team understands and is on board with the vision and strategy, it needs to agree on the steps needed, the priority and who best can take on particular tasks. And, a timetable for getting them done. Defined responsibilities and accountability breed teamwork and achievement.

Communications: Verbally and visually sell the dream of the future both externally and internally so that people can begin to see the possibilities and build the desire for change. Moving others out of their comfort zones is difficult. Authority and rewards usually are not enough. Strive by your own word and deed for an emotional commitment of willing contributors.

Culture: Create a culture that is capable of unleashing the unrealized abilities of the talent within the company. Don’t seek affirmation of your genius or settle for concurrence with your ideas. Listen, encourage and acknowledge input without judgment. Discourage competitive “silos” of responsibility and enterprise. Promote the goal.

Catalysts: Bring groups of influencers within the company together to define the best path to achieve specific goals. Accept that your way may not be “the way” and that the team can define a clearer and more direct path.

Course Corrections: Expect and encourage regular “feedback” as the change takes place so course corrections can maintain alignment until you have reached your goal. Successful change is like an elusive halfback, adapting and shifting to reach the goal line. Strategy, tactics, resources are all subject to how well your plan is “hitting the nail on the head.”

Customer-Centric: Stay close to your internal (staff) and external customers to ensure they are clear, motivated and aligned to the future. If either group is not informed and accepting, you’ll experience an undertow of inertia with one and, at best, indifference with the other. Enlist their excitement about what the change means for them.

Constancy: Maintain the strong relationships that brought you where you are today and enroll their involvement to take you where you need to be tomorrow. Do not overlook the power and importance of the “quiet, steady” team members whose past performance made your present possible.

Celebrate: Find a way to consistently recognize and thank the behaviors and initiatives that support the goals. Share them with the team so others can learn quickly as well. Praise in public. Align in private. Both are important. The one means nothing if cause for the other is ignored.

Cultivate the leadership behaviors that keep you humble, appreciative and forward-focused. They’ll make you a legend in your company, market and community. Your cultivated leadership abilities will make you a leader to be followed.

Practicing these Cs as a leader will allow you and your team to achieve uncommon success.

Synthesis CEO Bobbie Goheen is expert in focusing top-management dynamics on a shared vision, specific goals and creative collaborations to achieve them. She has done this for Fortune 100 corporations, clients large and small and across a range of enterprises here and abroad. Connect with her on Twitter and Linkedin.

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