Whenever an organization feels the need to adapt, change or innovate, it must first create the right environment necessary for employees to feel comfortable and secure while they make the appropriate behavioral changes during the transition.

This and subsequent articles will focus on some of the most critical recommendations and “enlightened leadership qualities” necessary to help your team, department, and bank become more nimble and adaptive.

Enlightened Leaders Focus On Creating The Right Environment

Enlightened leaders know employees will be uneasy going through any change, be it a small internal process change or a large initiative such as a change of your core processor or implementing a new CRM.

During any change effort, employees get very primal in their needs and often quite insecure.  Employees want to know “What does this mean to me?” and “Is my job secure?”  Enlightened leaders know this and take specific steps to help nurture employees through the very predictable fear that is naturally associated with any change.

The following are a few simple, but impactful actions leaders can take to help create an empowering environment where change can happen in a timely and effective manner:

  • Acknowledge the obvious:  Executives and managers help defuse employee tension around change when they talk about it openly and often, especially in the early stages of the change process.  By talking about the change and the impact change can have on an organization, department or team, you are validating the feelings of employees while being empathetic.  This helps managers build trust and most importantly, begins to create an environment where employees feel comfortable coming to their manager to discuss their concerns and worries.
  • Lead by example: As a manager, your employees must see you change your behavior.  It has to be noticeable.  Furthermore, it’s not just enough for your employees to see you changing, they must also hear you talk about the impact these changes are having on you.  When a manager changes their behavior and then discusses it openly with their employees, this shows employees that while change is uncomfortable, their job security isn’t on the line.
  • Be vulnerable: The more transparent and real you can be as a manager about your own struggles and insecurities associated with change, the better.  Many changes in our lives, whether personal or professional, require us to go from a state of proficiency to a state of being a humble learner.  The fear is that being less than proficient in our jobs puts our jobs and our livelihood at risk because we’re being judged.  And if employees feel their livelihood is at risk, they likely will be highly resistant to change their behavior.  Having the courage as a leader and manager to be vulnerable is counter to the notion that good leaders are tough leaders.

The truth is that today’s fluid business landscape demands leaders be much more insightful and have a deeper understanding around what employees are really going through as you make change at your bank.

I will be sharing more leadership “gems” specific to how to become a 21st-century enlightened leader.