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Leading in the New Normal

“Change is an inescapable fact of life—at home and at work,” says bestselling business author Scott Blanchard. “But it’s how we react to change that makes all the difference. We can choose to ignore the change, lament the way things used to be, or deal with the new reality, find some firm ground, and move forward.”

Leaders set the tone for an organisation—and people look to their leaders for direction in times of change, says Blanchard.

“During uncertain times, people look to their leaders to define reality, create plans for moving ahead, and then put those plans in action. Leadership, learning, and talent development professionals have a role to play in this. Many leaders—especially those with less tenure in organisations—have not had the experience of leading during times of massive change. It’s important that L&D professionals quickly ramp up the skill development of these leaders to help them lead effectively by setting departmental goals that are in line with the organisation’s overall vision, then diagnosing the amount of direction and support their people need and providing it.”

“These leadership skills have always been important, although some companies still see them as only a ‘nice to have’ component of a long-term learning journey. But when an organisation needs to immediately implement new strategies, these skills are critical. If rank-and-file leaders don’t have the skills to turn strategy into action, plans run the risk of being poorly executed.”

Blanchard points to his company’s SLII® leadership development program as a possible resource to help L&D professionals with this imperative.

“Our SLII® leadership model and training program teaches three basic skills—goal setting, diagnosing, and matching. SLII® has been taught to more than five million managers in the past forty years. Its leadership principles have stood the test of time through countless economic recessions and international crises. Today, SLII® continues to help organisations identify what’s needed now and provide leadership direction and support to get people moving forward on a new course.

SLII® also helps with the mental and emotional aspects of change, says Blanchard.

“The SLII® model provides a framework for meaningful connections by increasing the likelihood that managers and direct reports are talking about the right things at the right time in the conversations they have. Every good conversation creates focus and a deeper connection that leads to the next conversation. That’s important when people are under stress. Leaders need to be empathetic in these situations. When our conversations are awkward or ineffective, we risk breaking trust and undermining confidence.

“We know from our research over the past four decades that SLII® helps people deal with emotional situations more effectively. Our experience with clients shows that up to 75% of the conversations between managers and direct reports involve some degree of emotion.

“Good leaders help their people overcome obstacles in a way that makes the direct report stronger, more resilient, and better able to handle the next set of obstacles. The SLII®approach is specifically designed to provide leaders with the language to move people through four stages of development.

“Stage one begins with clarifying specifically what a new plan looks like. Stage two is about working through the obstacles and disillusionment that inevitably get in people’s way. In stage three, people begin to gain momentum toward the goal. When people reach stage four, it’s clear sailing—they are empowered and self reliant. A lot of joy and satisfaction comes from achieving a goal after tackling challenges along the way.”

Blanchard also shares how the SLII® model inspires progress by increasing intrinsic motivation.

“Passion and inspiration come from doing hard work toward goals that really matter. Our models help leaders partner with their people to identify and develop connection and meaning to the work they’re doing. Finding that meaning and positive inspiration from our work is important. It’s something we can hold on to in a challenging and changing world.”

About the author:

David Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast CompanyHuman Resource Development ReviewChief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

First published on Leaderchat
4 May 2020