Over the last 15 years, my primary focus has been on leading and implementing change, both as a leader and an advisor, and my experience shows that the demand for change competence is still on the increase. Despite the rise in demand, however, I have seen that neither in-house leadership nor in-house talent development are equipped to focus on building necessary change competence, and this is true for most organisations. Instead of turning ‘leading change’ into an integrated skill set across the whole organisation, it still appears to be the norm to either outsource change competence or to build it internally as separate, smaller, project-based units.
Is it relevant for organisations to build change competence as part of their core leadership skill set?
The ability to successfully lead and enable change is crucial for all organisations. While this has always been the case, a combination of the pandemic and rapid digitalisation has resulted in change happening much faster. This requires us all, whether employee or leader, to be able to quickly adjust to change, to thrive in an ever-changing environment and, especially for leaders, to communicate efficiently and visualise change and why it is happening.
In my experience, while each organisational change has its own DNA, the underlying competencies needed to successfully lead and implement change are the same. In other words, it is the organisation's ability to lead and implement lasting change that will decide whether they are successful in harvesting long-term value or not.
So do external advisors play a role in enabling successful change?
Yes, I believe they do – but not as traditional drivers of change projects. The role of the external advisor must be to facilitate the change journey: to recommend the best pragmatic approach and to build change competence. While we support scoping and implementation, we can also enable employee development and equip leaders for change processes ahead. This way, we can combine the best of both worlds: in-house ownership, will and ability to lead the change and experience, best practice and competence to ensure change is successful.
This article is exclusive to The Business Transformation Network.
Louise Ellekilde Fogstrup is Founder of Enabling Change, a boutique consultancy for leading and implementing change and transformation. Louise has more than 15 years' experience in change management and transformation. She is an experienced management consultant and leader across Europe, and an experienced facilitator and speaker.
Louise is currently based in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.