Cancel the solo performance - it's time to empower your team!

One of the biggest killers of progress in organisations is a lack of role clarity.

While there are various ingredients that determine whether people are motivated at work, two of the primary ones are: accountability and flexibility.  People want to know what they are accountable for, and they want some flexibility in how they go about doing their job.

The criticality of these elements goes up a notch when you are leading a change.

Making a change brings ambiguity and instability.  That’s natural.  People wonder about the change, and worry about what it means for them.

It’s even harder for people to cope if the change is introduced into an environment where people don’t know the role they need to play and the rules of the game.

Dog and piano

You can ignore these elements – but at your peril.

Why?  Because change leadership isn’t a solo venture.  You need a diverse mix of people to get the change initiated, built and implemented.  The roles they take on and how they do it needs to be carefully orchestrated.

Think back to the last time you went to a concert – a good one, that is.  It’s well coordinated and everyone knows their role.   The expectations are clear.  There’s a common purpose, and a strong sense of team.  They work in harmony with each other.

Those involved in the production know that the ‘whole’ is only as good as the ‘sum of the parts’.

A performance with multiple conductors causes confusion.  If there’s too many people trying to take the lead singing role, the music is unbalanced.  If instruments are not tuned correctly, the performance is off key.  If the players don’t play in time with each other, the performance becomes a shambles.

It’s the same when you lead a change.  You need to be clear on who is leading the change.  And if you’re the leader, the person in that role – is you.  You can’t delegate it to someone else.

You can enlist the support of a ‘road crew’ to help plan and execute the change.  You may also have people in ‘lead roles’ (i.e. other change leaders and advocates) and ‘support roles’ (i.e. change agents and technical experts).

You will also have an audience – the people who are impacted by the change.  But they are not passive participants.  They need to be involved and engaged throughout the production.

If you want to take your change leadership to the next level, consider:

  • Having the right people involved at the right time
  • Ensuring everyone is clear about the role they need to play, and knows how their role and work effort contributes to the team’s success and outcomes
  • Really listening to people’s ideas and be OK with the fact that you don’t have all the answers
  • Creating the right environment so that people feel engaged and inspired, and are actively involved
  • Providing enough space for challenge and learning, but ensuring that your team feel supported and encouraged to try things they haven’t done before

The time for solo performances is over.  Consciously lead the change by empowering those around you.

Remember, change happens. Make it work for you!


Michelle Gibbings is known for making the complex, simple.  She helps people to think more deliberately, act with greater purpose and accelerate progress by understanding the art and science of human behaviour.  


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