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The Convergence of Leadership Development & Business Transformation

So often our large business transformation projects talk a lot about people change but most of the training and metrics are still centered on process and dollar measurements. How can we transform organizations if we aren’t helping leaders and employees change behaviors? Isn’t an organization made up of people?   Most of the time behavioral change metrics are completely absent.  Similarly, leadership development and other behavioral change interventions are commonly separate programs loosely linked to “the ability to lead change” and provided only for high potentials and higher level leaders.  In organizational change, we almost always need leaders at all levels and front-line employees to make big behavioral shifts in order for the other changes (process, technology, organizational structure, etc. ) to be successful.

Since we are still reporting statistics of 50-60% failure rates with business transformation, changes are needed within our change programs. Further, we have extensive neuroscience data confirming that humans only change behaviors with awareness, practice, repetition and accountability.  We also know the carrot and stick method of enforcing behavior change erodes employee engagement and motivation over the long term. A focus on behavior change using many strategies from leadership development programs may significantly increase the success of your transformation goals:

  1. Set behavioral change metrics as a high priority along with process and financial measurements. Leadership development programs almost always haves success metrics related to behavior change (recurring 360 assessments, internal promotion metrics, retention statistics, competency measurements, etc.).  Large business transformation programs rarely integrate these same types of metrics into their KPI’s (key performance indicators).   Behavioral change is harder to measure though not impossible.  With a change in behavior being so critical to most business transformations, how can you afford to not to identify and measure them?
  2. Assign professionals to the transformation program who are also executive and leadership coaches. Many professionals (external specialists or internal employees) with experience in organizational change management understand that sustainable change occurs when individuals are able to transform through one-on-one and leadership coaching. Many professionals have evolved their own skills and offerings with coaching certifications and degrees allowing them to understand and support both systems and individual transformation.   However, this complementary set of skills is rarely used within business transformation programs.  Executive and leadership coaches are mostly utilized within leadership development programs or at the discretion of the leader but not specifically related to a business transformation.
  3. Utilize trained coaches to facilitate behavior change interventions.  Not only can trained coaches work with leaders individually, they can also work with management groups of all levels in facilitating their own behavior change and that of their front-line employees.   Most training within large transformation programs is concentrated on process and systems changes with very little time reserved for behavior change.  Programs rely on the communication strategy to drive needed behavior change which only accounts for the awareness piece of the behavior change equation.
  4. Engage impacted employees up front and throughout the change.  In most change programs I’ve been involved in, this is part of the people change plan and yet is never fully implemented effectively. Generally the perception is that it takes too much time or is only a “nice-to-have”. Yet we know humans are more apt to change when they feel they have a choice in making a change.  Engagement at all levels also facilitates other aspects of the human change process such as awareness and accountability. Leadership development programs are generally based on engaging participants throughout the process.  Ultimately, this important piece of the plan helps changes stick over time and is directly related to transformation success.

While lack of focusing on behavior change is not the sole reason we have such large failure rates, it plays a big role.  When we start investing in leader and employee behavior change as a direct success measure of business transformation, we will likely see our transformation success metrics increase.

“We can only solve it together.”

– Zootopia/Disney