How Can Top Executives Successfully Adapt to Change?

By September 3, 2021XLN

Business environments and competitive threats/opportunities are continually evolving and accelerating. Companies must evolve and innovate to remain relevant. They need to be open to and accept change to maintain a growth trajectory. Real change and growth start with executive leaders that are responsible for setting the direction for the whole team.

To maintain forward-thinking momentum, here are several areas executives should keep top of mind:

Create Opportunities for Failure and then Welcome It

Executives need to understand there is a difference in the meaning of accepting vs. welcoming failure.

Accepting failure is critical. Some leaders love to win; other leaders hate to lose. Whichever it is, when you fail quickly, accept it or your attitude can quickly spiral out of control. Welcoming failure is an admission of the current situation and the intent to overcome it.

When executives’ welcome failure, they view it as a temporary obstacle which they can quickly power through and gain knowledge by learning from the experience. Organizations that incorporate this notion of welcoming failure into their corporate culture accelerate success. You can test your (and your company’s) attitude by answering these questions:

  • How many new ideas from executives are accepted by the organization?
  • How much does the possibility of growth motivate people in your organization?
  • How many incentives for testing products or services do you have in place?

Define the Process First, Goals Second

The pressure to always succeed is overwhelming for executives. But that’s the result of organizations allowing their goals to define their process. Instead, focus on developing and maturing your process to reach the desired level of quality. Once you create a method that works, it will be easy to create goals that match the process and drive innovation in your organization.

Create Feedback Loops to Improve Communication

Reality and perceptions are not always the same. Communication is an integral component of change. Without receiving regular feedback, executives may perceive their progress as successful, when it might only be perceived by your team to be neutral at best or even worse an illusion (with your team perceiving failure). Adding feedback loops is critical to make it easy for your team to communicate their perceptions of progress. Do not underestimate the power of regular communication – it keeps your team focused on shared goals. And increasing the rate of interaction between teams and their managers creates meaningful workplace connections.

For example, when companies start development on a new product, it’s hard for executives to determine its impact on the day-to-day motivation of their team. However, when you implement standardized strategies and use leadership feedback loops to track performance perceptions, you can ensure both the quality of the progress and the motivation level of your team and take appropriate actions proactively.

Promote Accountability to Increase Agility

Executives must promote accountability in their company’s culture to create an agile organization which can quickly adapt to change. Accountability is based on the principle that each employee is aware of how their decisions affect the whole organization. Shared processes and shared goals make this easier.

When employees understand there is mutual accountability, it allows you to delegate tasks and give them more responsibilities to relieve some of the pressure from yourself personally. In challenging situations, you can also rely on your executive peer group for sage advice on how to achieve project milestones and goals, or successfully ask for advice on how to re-deploy team members to find solutions and overcome problems.

Manage Your Ego to Make Quality Decisions

Ego is essential to success, but ego that is unchecked in business becomes negative at every level. And while it is useful for survival and self-preservation in the corporate environment, it’s often detrimental for leadership of more junior teams.

Real leaders need to be hyper-vigilant and keep their egos in check, and separate personal benefits from those of the company. An executive peer group is extremely helpful in this area because it allows you to hear unbiased opinions from peers struggling with similar issues and challenges on a daily basis with no personal interest of their own vested in your company’s success or failure.

Join an Executive Leadership Network

XLN is an executive leadership network that helps senior business leaders increase their knowledge to achieve success for their organizations. We can help build up your leadership skills and improve your ability to lead your team. Learn more about how our leadership network works and schedule a consultation.


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