Transformation Leadership: Simple in Theory, Complex in Practice

Insights | 02 August 2017

Ken Sheargold, CEO, PM-Partners group

Thank you to everyone – almost one hundred of you from both public and private sector organisations who came to our quarterly OnTarget seminar in Sydney last week. We discussed experiences in Transformation Leadership, lessons learnt and provided key take aways to successfully transform an organisation. The standing room only event was an indication of the importance of transformation to our customers.

Transformation is the buzzword of the moment, and although sounds straightforward in theory, the execution of transformation can be demanding. The skill required to simplify complex issues is the responsibility of the transformation professional.

It is important to differentiate between a transformation, a project or a programme and even a transition. However, we are talking about transformation, and a transformation affects everyone within an organisation, and relies on the alignment of stakeholders across the business from board level to the front line.

Transformation is as much about culture as it is about strategy and execution, and so leadership style and skill are integral to the process. The best strategy cannot be executed even by the best people if there is no one at the C-Level owning and driving successful transformation.

I shared my perspective on what leaders must do to drive effective transformation and how to get things done. Here’s my take on the leadership traits of a transformational professional:

  • Have a demonstrable history of driving results;
  • Strong effective leaders demand the truth;
  • Frame problems effectively and know when to ask for help. The earlier the problem is identified and discussed the quicker it can be resolved;
  • Demonstrate courage – whether that is standing up to sponsors, or standing up for staff;
  • Have a sense of pace and urgency to develop quick wins to maintain momentum in the transformation programme;
  • Communicate, and over-communicate by about five times.

During the Q&A, a number of topics were discussed, including the difference between TMO and EPMO, how to set your organisation up for agile, whether transformation is continual (permanent) or whether you should pause and reset.

We addressed the questions of whether you can drive transformation through burning ambition versus a burning platform for change, how to imbue middle management with the vision, how to manage setbacks as well as staff who don’t want to change. We kicked around the challenge of running business as usual which is never static versus managing a transformation program.

We concluded that the establishment of a TMO will be the delivery vehicle whose sole purpose is to govern and drive the successful implementation of transformation.

PM-Partners will continue to contribute to transformation best practice in Australia, and has an ongoing commitment to support both the private and public sectors. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact PM-Partners on 1300 70 13 14.

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