Life, Leadership and Business

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Superpowers of the Superheroes for Change – 8 Traits for leaders of change

Leadership is a demanding role, and even more so when it comes to guiding change. As a leader you automatically step in to the role: Custodian of Change. A leader has the unenviable job of juggling two main elements – Activities for Change and Engagement of Team Members. This is no easy thing as these tasks are on opposite ends of the skills range. A Leader requires a set of unique skills, abilities and traits, and even more so when it comes to managing change.

Listed here are traits that are extremely useful when dealing with Change within the team or organisation:

Generous people are giving leaders. Leaders entering change must be generous in the following areas:

       a.       Generous with information – Talk, share, ask and listen to all the stake holders that are affected by the process of change. Uncertainty brings resistance. So, the more information you share the more likely people will be to buy in to your new process.

b.      Generous with Interest – Find out what people think and what they are feeling about the process.  If they think you have heard them they will feel appreciated and their sense of loyalty will grow.

c.       Be Generous with Skills, Knowledge and Attitude – In times of change and uncertainty, offering people training that includes knowledge, skills and attitude will equip team members for the path to come, making them feel confident and included.

d.      Be Generous in Feedback – People will put in effort and live on the edge seeking validation. Give it to them. Be generous with praise and appreciation, and be liberal with positive correction when they have got it wrong.

e.      Be Generous with Incentives and Rewards – The reward of achieving change successfully is not always beneficial to team members that often have to make sacrifices of extra time and effort. Be generous when you say thank you and it will lay a positive foundation for when you plan change in the future.

Childish and insecure leaders are a threat to positive change. Change brings uncertainty, which in turn causes tempers to flare. As a leader, you need to keep your temper in check, and guard your mouth against hurling insults and criticism that you will regret later. Here are a few other situations that require the leader to be emotionally secure:

a.       Stinky Plans: Leaders feel compelled to come up with a constant flow of solutions, but sometimes these answers stink. You need to be secure and open enough for team members to approach you and tell you the truth. Don’t let the outcome suffer because you are an immature brat.

b.      Credit and dues: It is disgusting when a leader takes credit for ideas, inspirations and solutions brought forward by team members. Give credit where it is due. Be mature enough to work backstage should the situation require it, and allow a team member to enjoy the lime light. Success is not about stroking your ego, its about an effective and efficient process, no matter where it originates.

c.       Admit when you have Bungled: Mistakes are forgivable, character flaws are not. The real test of leadership is not when the plan works and your team wins, it is when you as a leader make a mistake. The mistake won’t be the judge, but what you do after it will set the tone for your leadership future. Be bold, suck it up and admit you messed up. Do it gracefully and with dignity. Offer apologies when required, without being prompted or instructed.

Positively Motivated

Be clear about the vision, and what it is you want to achieve and how you would want to achieve it. Focusing on outcomes you want to avoid is like driving facing in the direction you have come from and not looking at where it is you want to go. Avoid complaining and bickering about trials and troubles. People get stuck on the negative and it becomes increasingly difficult to motivate team members.  Use positive and encouraging language and tones about the desired outcomes, in plain words. This will encourage team members to engage in a positive and meaningful manner.


Over and above having an attitude of lifelong learning, a leader must be teachable. Leaders are not called to know everything; they are called to guide skilled and knowledgeable team members to a desired outcome. There will be times and situations where a team member may have the answer and the leader must be open and teachable to receive advice and direction. You don’t become less of a leader because you don’t have the answer; you become less of a leader when you are unwilling to be taught by those that do have the answer.


Rigid, inflexible, unreachable and unwillingness to change make leaders brittle and easily broken during adversity.  Leadership, and especially Change, requires leaders to be open and flexible. Flexible in approach, willingness to change direction in a moment, being open and attentive - are all survival tools that will allow the leader to survive amidst change and turmoil.

People undergoing the process of change live in a situation filled with uncertainty. Validation and recognition from the leader during this time does a lot to calm the nerves and steady the efforts. Often the difference between a team member giving up completely or offering their best efforts is based on a simple act of validation. Be a leader that offers encouragement, praise and appreciation.

Mean what you say and say what you mean. If you said you would do something, do it. If you promised something, deliver it. Being a leader of your word will stand you in good stead during times of change. People will know they can count on your word. It is easy to commit to a leader of integrity. It is difficult to offer loyalty to someone you suspect will leave you out to dry.  


During Change a leader’s dedication must be focused on three areas:

       a.       On the vision: Make sure you are committed to the vision, and allow your passion too be infectious. Be warned: this cannot be faked, and attempting to play the game will cause people to doubt you and your vision. People Buy trust first, vision second...

       b.      On the Team: Make sure you team are looked after. Make sure they have the resources needed, and are positive and validated. A leader without a team following is just someone out for a walk.

c.       On Success: Be bent on victory. Make sure people know that nothing less than success is acceptable. Your passion to win will infect your team, and they will raise their game to meet your expectations.

Not all leaders are born with tall these traits, but they are learnable attitudes. Becoming proficient in these superpowers for change will however, require that you arrive with two other attributes: Acute self awareness and a brutal self-honesty. Claiming that you have the listed superpowers, when you don’t, could be fatal to your cause. Standing up and declaring that you are flexible when you are actually as stubborn as a mule, will cause people to see you as a fake and pretentious. They will always be suspicious of your ability to lead them, and may desert you at the first sign of distress or failure.  So, in all things be honest, but above all learn and grow.

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