CEOs who succeed in the Innovator-in-Chief role are what I think of as change-savvy. The change-savvy CEOs that I’ve worked with and observed:
• Are technically very knowledgeable about best practices in the rapidly changing area of change planning and management, which means she isn’t wedded to conventional planning wisdom and out-of-date approaches. You’ll never hear a change-savvy CEO extolling the virtues of traditional longrange (or strategic) planning as a change tool, much less catch her fondling a ten-pound five year plan.
• Realize that successfully bringing off out-of-the-box change against all odds requires that she make leading the change planning and implementation process a top-tier priority. In practice, this means that the change-savvy CEO makes a firm commitment of time to leading change from the top and never tries to delegate one piece or another of this leadership role to lieutenants.
• Recognize that leading out-of-the- box change as Innovatorin-Chief of the organization is more psychological and political in nature than technical. Not only does the change-savvy CEO understand that fear is more often than not at the heart of staff resistance to change, she also takes strong, visible steps to allay that fear through the clear articulation of vision and other motivational steps that are intended to inspire and energize participants in the change process. The change-savvy CEO also pays close attention to the transformation of key stakeholders into ardent change champions.
•And command the respect of staff members and key stakeholders, primarily by playing a very aggressive and visible change-leadership role and practicing what she’s preaching in the change arena. A change-savvy CEO knows that her leadership credibility depends on walking the talk, never contradicting in practice what she’s saying publicly.