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8 ways to be an effective leader for change


joshuabrusse.jpgBy Joshua Brusse, Chief Architect, Asia Pacific and Japan, HP Software Professional Services


(Joshua Brusse has more than 20 years experience in all aspects of running IT as a business. He consults with HP enterprise customers regarding strategy, governance, service lifecycle management, and organizational design and transformation.)


In my last post (“3 elements for management of organizational change”) I wrote about why it’s so important to have a management of organizational change (MOC) program in your organization. Today I want to talk about one of the fundamental elements you need for a successful change: leadership.


I’ve worked for years helping CIOs and organizations transform their organizations. And in my experience leadership is the #1 thing that’s important if you want to achieve any form of change. If you don’t demonstrate leadership, people won’t actually change.


Eight elements of good leadership

There are eight elements that go into effective leadership. If you can successfully integrate these into an MOC program, you can more quickly and effectively lead employees to internalize the desired change, improving your ROI.


  • Create a vision: Explain why the change must occur, give a reason and create desire for the future state.
  • Be engaged and engage your people: Establish stakeholder management and ask them what they want; but also tell them what will change.
  • Be available: Answer questions, admit when you don’t have the answer, and keep an open door policy.
  • Walk the talk: Show more than lip service.
  • Acknowledge the fear: Manage the fear of the unknown that leads to denial and resistance.
  • Prepare your staff: Create awareness, unlearn old behavior and train them.
  • Provide something tangible: Reward people in a proper way, create career development and other possibilities.
  • Create a new comfort zone: Give room for internalization and rebuild teams.


Leading through a transformational change

IT is going through a period of seismic change right now, and many CIOs are having to lead their organizations through complex transformations. For example, many of our customers are grappling right now with the shift to cloud computing. How can a CIO demonstrate effective leadership in this scenario?


One of the first priorities has to do with creating a vision. What does going to a cloud computing model actually mean? When I work with customers I help them formalize the answer to questions like that.


But creating a vision is not enough by itself. You need to be able to explain completely what will be different after the change and how the organization will look. In other words, what does it mean for my people?


Once you have created a vision and understand what the future looks like, then you can communicate and engage more effectively. Your communication needs to make sure people are aware of the change and understand it so that they’ll eventually be able to internalize it. (I’ll write more about communication and engagement in an upcoming post.)


Understand that there will be resistance. Moving to a hybrid delivery model, for example, integrates delivery of traditional IT, outsourcing and cloud in one supply chain. This consolidates all the technology resources, and one result is that you cannot have shadow IT. People will need to give that up. This is where as a leader you must understand what people are going through by listening. But you also need to motivate people and explain to them why the future state is better for the organization. You must also have a list of non-negotiables.


As a leader, you shift the energy away from the feeling of being powerless and the feeling of the security of the past to seeing opportunities for the future.



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About the Author


This account is for guest bloggers. The blog post will identify the blogger.


Jos, what is your experience in terms of how different generations manage change? I expect that boomers are different from Gen-X vs millenials, but I'm curious as to what your practical experience has been.

Johnny Ito

Hi Joshua,

I would have the same perspective on the leadership and those key elements you described.

I would think, although the changes and/or the steps to change are really tough for the members involved, creating/showing the vision and clearly indicating/discussing the steps of changes can remove the fear on the changes so that those things can also effectively convince the members involved.

A leader is not a superman who can do all the things (and can resolve all the problems) only by him/herself.

But, for the changes, the important thing on the leadership should be to take that approach I feel too.


Thanks Johnny and  Paul for your comments.


Paul, to your questions:


When in change all generations are responding the same: they want to safeguard what they have, which means let go of the old, embrace the new but with the same or better perks.


And that’s where the difference is. Each generation looks at “rewards” different. They are all are stimulated with a fair and reliable mix from Maslow’s pyramid; however a baby boomer builds a stellar career while Gen-Y builds parallel careers. For baby boomers, money, title, recognition and the corner office are important while for Gen-X freedom is the ultimate reward. For Gen-Y work has to be meaningful. The baby boomers and Gen-X find work / life balance important, the difference is that Gen-X wants it earlier (before they turn 65).


For Gen-Y work isn’t everything. They need flexibility so they can balance all their activities. The “newest” generation talks about work / life integration: working 40 hours a week but not necessarily mon-fri from 9-5. Baby boomers are motivated by the personal approach, getting consensus and assured involvement while Gen-X prefers to have control over their work, and for them fairness and equity of recognition are important. Gen-X is not too excited about perks, but resents it when they are not distributed fairly. For them freedom is most important. Give them the latest technology and they feel appreciated. Gen-Y is resilient, works hard / plays hard and sets goals to achieve their dreams. They need a clear picture of goals, expectations and rules to operate to motivate them. In the latter they are like the baby-boomers but the objectives must be more “output” measured rather than “time” measured.


Thus when in a major change leaders must build a “new comfort zone” (we all know that the old one is gone) which means that  - based on the generation – “rewards” need to be kept the way they are or improve.


Last note: it’s always dangerous to generalize…I have worked with baby boomers that behave like Generation Y and recently worked with a few Generation X and Y employees that showed the same behavior as a baby boomer. As a leader you need to be aware of that too :)




Agree!  I truly believe MOC is a key differentiator in positioning our solutions.  Just spoke to a customer today who said he didn't know HP provided thess types of consulting as he's always perceived us to be hardware providers.  Well.....that's about to change. :smileywink:

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