A new look at change management, bringing in new theories on what leaders really need to do to ensure that their change management programs are effective, meaningful for their teams, and also long-lasting.
Stepping Back helps leaders understand what they need to do–and, as importantly, when they need to do it–in order to enable their teams to execute strategy, or implement change, without needing ongoing input from them. Based on the findings of new, empirical research, this new model says that, by putting in place four specific elements (the “what”) at three critical points (the “when”) during a strategy or change program, leaders can ensure that the autonomy they give their employees is used effectively and delivers the change they want.
But this requires leaders themselves to do things differently. They actually need to do more in the early stages of the change (including by being be very prescriptive about what they want, for example). Ironically, this lays the foundation on which true employee empowerment can be built. And then, in the later stages of the change process, leaders need to do less–or step back–and again in specific ways and at specific times, to help followers embed and sustain the change that has started to take shape.
The prize of such “meaningful autonomy” for employees is huge–to step up, to do more, and ultimately to become leaders themselves. But for leaders, the prize is arguably even greater. To step out of the day-to-day management of activities and instead to use their time and effort for the true work of leadership: to think about the strategic rather than the tactical; to focus on the future rather than the present; in order words, to lead rather than do.
This new book by Elsbeth Johnson is based on years of research, often conducted over many years (so as to assess the longer-term evolution of sustainable change), and provides a unique and practical assessment of why change management can fail and what leaders and managers can do differently to ensure that their work on managing change is successful, effective and long-lasting.