Leadership, emotional intelligence and teams in change management

Last week I was excited to lead an MBL session  on “Tackling Change Management – A Workshop for Professional Firms”. Having facilitated this session many times in the past in face-to-face workshops, it was exhilarating to experience the change in running it on-line for the first time. We welcomed delegates from legal, accountancy and financial services firms. Their roles included: team leaders, partners, functional experts and compliance professionals.  Leadership, emotional intelligence and teams in change management.

Leadership and change

The role of leadership and leaders in change management provoked much energetic discussion.

Leading change

We considered how to lead change. Particularly the role of leaders driving and embedding successful change. The challenges of leadership within a partnership model were explored. And how leadership teams can help or hinder change programmes. Delegates particularly enjoyed exploring the difference between management and leadership models and responsibilities.

Balance task and people

A common theme of many models was the need for leaders to balance task (achieve the desired outcome) against people and relationships (attending to individuals and teams). Leaders need to have a connection with and the trust of their people. They must engage their people and listen to their concerns. To win hearts as well as minds.

Develop organisational culture

This inevitably led to a discussion about the link between leadership and organisational culture. And how the prevailing culture may help or hinder the achievement of change.

Nurture a change management movement – From “Let it go” (kimtasso.com)

Move away from a “Command and Control” style of leadership

We explored the extent to which organisations maintained outdated “command and control” leadership model or had moved to a more collaborative style. This transition is explored further in Book review: The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic (kimtasso.com)

Create a change vision

Leaders need a compelling vision of the desired change. And then to manage the change process while focusing on the desired outcome. This can be particularly difficult to achieve when it was an imposed change – such as with the implementation of new processes to comply with new legislation.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” Socrates

Emotional intelligence and change

Emotions during change

Convincing people of the rational need for change – making the business case – is relatively easy. Winning their hearts – and emotional commitment – is tougher.

We considered the emotional journey of employees when embarking on a change journey change process – Emotions when reacting to change (kimtasso.com)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for leaders

We explored the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) for leaders.  Research on leadership and emotional intelligence (EQ) (kimtasso.com). A key part of successful change management is engaging with employees Change management and Employee engagement (kimtasso.com).

And this requires more than excellent internal communications Book review: Influential Internal Communication by Jenni Field (kimtasso.com). And we talked about the need for leaders to listen with their eyes as well as their ears (using non-verbal communications skills Non-Verbal Communication (NVC) – the basics (Video) (kimtasso.com)).

This also requires leaders to listen carefully to any concerns about the change programme. And to adjust the plan to reflect employees’ concerns and views. To develop empathy with those going through change programmes, we attempted an exercise using a personal change planning model.

Different emotional reactions to the same situation

Throughout the day do did emotional status checks. This helps us develop our emotional self-awareness. And helps us reflect on how different people react differently to the same situation. During the day, reported emotions included: acceptance, anticipation, apprehension, calm, curious, excited, inspired, interested, intrigued and optimistic

Changing individuals and teams

We explored a range of practical techniques to help individuals and teams change including:

  • Provide clarity about what will happen, why and when
  • Involve employees in the analysis and decision-making process (we talked here about the importance of workshops
  • Explain the benefits and answer “What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
  • Acknowledge individual differences and preferences
  • Reduce uncertainty and address fears
  • Separate from previous bad experiences
  • Promote “In Group” interactions
  • Harness the influencing power of champions and sponsors
  • Manage team dynamics – perhaps using personality and team assessment tools
  • Leverage social proof and peer pressure Influence – Cialdini’s six principles of the psychology of persuasion (kimtasso.com)

Role of organisational culture

Organisational culture will provide an important backdrop which will help or hinder change leadership and management. Key topics discussed here included:

Other ideas are explored here: Book review: Neuroscience for organizational change by Hilary Scarlett (kimtasso.com) 

Change process and models

We assessed a number of different change models and processes – from simple to complex. All models offered some insight into the change process. The delegate view was that there was “no one right way” and that firms needed to adapt the processes for their organisation and situation.

We explored the importance of confidence amongst leaders. Coaching was regarded as a particularly important skill set for leaders and change managers. There are many resources on coaching:

Soft skills: Introduction to coaching – Three frameworks (kimtasso.com)

Book review: Coaching skills: A handbook by Jenny Rogers (kimtasso.com)

Coaching models – book review of Stephen Gibson’s book (kimtasso.com)

Helping people change: Coaching with compassion (kimtasso.com)

Coaching and consulting skills for M&BD workshop (November 2021) (kimtasso.com)

Coaching skills – the power of questions (kimtasso.com)

Delegate views and poll results

Delegate aims for the session 

  • Keeping up with the challenges of constant changes in the market, staffing, technology
  • Support for the continuous management of organic growth
  • Assist in managing a major project to implement a new case management system – tackling IT and compliance issues and user resistance
  • Help for an unofficial project manager to manage strategic change following a leadership restructure
  • Guide our change in organisational culture as we implement new legislation in consumer protection
  • Manage a large team as we implement significant process changes
  • Support the customer services and finance teams as we implement new processes
  • Just taken over leadership of a team and need help in achieving buy-in, managing resistance and developing new skills on several projects
  • Head of department and need to implement policy changes quickly
  • Managing expectations and buy-in of senior leadership team when implementing numerous projects
  • How to implement new processes across several areas with a focus on how we manage people, commercial interests and outcomes
  • How to embed new processes into daily routines seamlessly
  • Aligning the technical and data infrastructure to new methods of working
  • Dealing with the merger of three teams

 Which is the biggest challenge in your change project?

  1. 0% Values and beliefs
  2. 29% Thinking (rational and cognitive)
  3. 14% Feelings (emotions)
  4. 0% Behaviours
  5. 43% Data, systems and processes
  6. 14% Senior leadership support

Which emotion dominates employees during change?

  1. 0% Sadness
  2. 0% Joy
  3. 14% Fear
  4. 0% Disgust
  5. 0% Anger
  6. 71% Anxiety
  7. 14% Other

Which topic is of most interest?

  1. Why is change so difficult?
  2. Leading change and leadership (57%)
  3. Supporting individual change
  4. Supporting organisational change (14%)
  5. Change management tools and skills (14%)

Which do you think has been the main reason holding back change at your firm?

  1. 0% Leadership
  2. 0% Strategy and plans
  3. 17% Implementation process
  4. 33% Poor communication/Lack of engagement
  5. 0% HR systems (rewards etc)
  6. 33% Lack of time
  7. 17% Something else

Which leadership style dominates at your firm?

  1. Autocratic
  2. Analytic (17%)
  3. Opinion seeking (17%)
  4. Democratic (17%)
  5. Visionary
  6. Transformational (33%)
  7. Adaptive (17%)
  8. Connective

Which level do you think applies to your firm? Book review: The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic (kimtasso.com) 

  1. Apathetic
  2. Stagnating
  3. Orderly 43%
  4. Collaborative 57%
  5. Unbounded

How is your emotional intelligence? An introduction to emotional intelligence (EQ) and empathy (Video) (kimtasso.com) 

  1. Very high
  2. High 33%
  3. Average 50%
  4. Low
  5. Very low
  6. I have no idea 17%

Which model is most similar to your view of human behaviour?

  1. Behavioural 60%
  2. Psychodynamic
  3. Humanistic
  4. Cognitive
  5. Other 40%

Which of the following phases is most difficult to manage? change process – Emotions when reacting to change (kimtasso.com)

  1. Shock
  2. Denial 20%
  3. Anger
  4. Depression 80%
  5. Acceptance
  6. Experimentation

Do you think your firm is psychologically safe? How to facilitate groups – 2 (Herding cats in professional services) (kimtasso.com) 

  1. Yes 17%
  2. No
  3. In parts 83%

Do you think you are mostly:

  1. Red (competitive) 33%
  2. Blue (cautious) 17%
  3. Green (sociable)
  4. Yellow (carting) 50%

Have you received training in coaching? Soft skills: Introduction to coaching – Three frameworks (kimtasso.com) and Book review: Coaching skills: A handbook by Jenny Rogers (kimtasso.com)

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Sort of 100%

 MBL has some coaching skills courses – and I also provide coaching and consulting skills workshops for clients inhouse

Be Your Own Coach – How to Get ‘Un-Stuck’ Manager as Coach? A Toolkit for Business Live at Your Desk

Coaching Skills for Managers – An Introduction

Coaching & Mentoring for HR Professionals

Do you think your firm is more (Nancy Kline – Time to Think How to facilitate groups – 2 (Herding cats in professional services) (kimtasso.com))

  1. A thinking environment 67%
  2. Male conditioned
  3. Unsure 33%

Do you think your conflict handling style is mostly: Nine ideas for better conflict management (kimtasso.com) 

  1. Competing
  2. Collaborating 17%
  3. Compromising 50%
  4. Avoiding 17%
  5. Accommodating 17%

Do you have a project management methodology at your firm? Delegation and project management – Kim Tasso 

  1. Yes – Formally 29%
  2. Yes – Informally 57%
  3. No
  4. I don’t know 14%

Which are articulated at your firm (tick all that apply) 

  1. Vision 14%
  2. Values 71%
  3. Strategy 57%
  4. Business plan 57%
  5. Change plan 14%
  6. Change process 29%

How equipped do you feel to design and manage your change programme or project?

  1. Fully equipped
  2. Well equipped 86%
  3. OK 14%
  4. Not well equipped
  5. Really ill-equipped
  6. Other

Have you used internal workshops to discuss change in the past?

  1. Yes – regularly 14%
  2. Yes – on occasion 86%
  3. No

Delegates’ takeaways from individual change section

  • Communicate the vision and goals to achieve buy in
  • Individual differences – dogs, cats and bears dog, cat and bear personalities – Better business relationships (kimtasso.com)
  • Colour personality analysis
  • Force Field model
  • Coaching tools
  • Adapt own behaviour to better respond to others
  • Feedback – 5 positives to 1 negative
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Allow time for your teams to process the change and embrace the chaos
  • Don’t always try to make it right – some chaos is inevitable
  • Change leader vs Change manager
  • Psychological assessment tools
  • You need different leadership styles to see change through to completion
  • Management vs leadership differences
  • Behavioural models
  • Remember your team is made of people with different goals and feelings

Delegate views on most useful tools/ideas and actions at the end of workshop

  • Colour analysis – how it applies to yourself and others
  • Adapting your own behaviour to better respond to others
  • Psychological safety
  • Use of workshops
  • Avoid labelling
  • Reframing your perspective to change your approach
  • Reframe those who appear “difficult” or resistant to change
  • Review the resources and look at what I can apply to the current project
  • Change management tools to review and compare against what we have in place to see what else I should include in our change management process
  • Check out the links to get more in depth information
  • Diversity supports better decision-making
  • Dogs, Cats and Bears for personalities
  • Schedule some time to go through and ensure I revisit the resource pack to fully digest all of the information
  • Change management framework – use with other frameworks to create a customised plan
  • Look into the emotional intelligence (EQ) test 

Thank you for the fabulous feedback!

  • Very informative Really enjoyed it 
  • I thought the course was excellent and Kim a very good speaker 
  • So much information, but because we get a downloadable pack means I can go back through it once I have absorbed what we have gone through today. Very happy with today 
  • I thought it was a really interesting and detailed session and I really appreciated the tips and tools that have been provided
  • All the information contained in the course was extremely relevant and the effort in putting this together was really appreciated
  • Appreciated the regular breaks with there being a lot of information and a long day. Really well delivered. Nice to have the course notes beforehand also. Thanks 

And thank you from me to all of the delegates for their participation and enthusiasm and to our excellent MBL technical host Claire Hamer.

Change management resources

Change management books

Book review: The Management Shift by Vlatka Hlupic (kimtasso.com) October 2022

Book review: Influential Internal Communication by Jenni Field (kimtasso.com) September 2022

Your personal transition – Endings, neutral zone and new beginnings (kimtasso.com) June 2020

Book review: Neuroscience for organizational change by Hilary Scarlett (kimtasso.com) May 2020

Helping people change: Coaching with compassion (kimtasso.com) October 2019

Change management – Change Catalyst book review by Kim Tasso September 2018

change management and organisational change (kimtasso.com) January 2017

Change management book – Switch (Chip & Dan Heath) (kimtasso.com) 2015

Change management articles

Nurture a change management movement – From “Let it go” (kimtasso.com) September 2023

The EAST framework for behavioural nudges in marketing? (kimtasso.com) August 2023

Change Management – Heads, Hearts and Hands (kimtasso.com) July 2023

20 insights on change management processes and communication (kimtasso.com) November 2022

change management (kimtasso.com) Change Management Standard August 2022

Nine Change Management insights (May 2022) (kimtasso.com) May 2022

Dealing with resistance to change (kimtasso.com) March 2021

Change management basics – personal and organisational change (kimtasso.com) December 2020

Building Resilience – Regulation, Reframing, Relationships and Reflection (kimtasso.com) May 2020

change process – Emotions when reacting to change (kimtasso.com) April 2020

Changing behaviour in the workplace to boost productivity – psychology (kimtasso.com) December 2019

thoughts on managing change and leadership (kimtasso.com) November 2019

Change management and Employee engagement (kimtasso.com) April 2019

Change management – Millennials, metaphors and resistance (kimtasso.com) October 2017

Change management and creativity – the adaptive third (kimtasso.com) July 2016

ready to change? remember the change process (kimtasso.com) January 2016