In the third paragraph of this article, Augusto Giacoman states a hard truth about leading change: “People will not believe a message that presses the case for change if they don’t believe the messenger.”

We at Expressworks agree. Credibility is critical to effective change leadership. Unless leaders establish credibility by speaking truthfully and acting accordingly — by holding themselves and others accountable — their words ring hollow. People simply won’t follow someone they don’t believe in or trust.

The article continues, “That’s the bad news. The good news? Three steps can give executives a greater chance at success. To build a transformation that people will enthusiastically support, leaders should (1) identify and understand personal values; (2) align those values with the transformational goals; and (3) identify actions to model those values to the organization. We call this a ‘credibility first’ transformation.”

The article goes on to provide details about each step — specific how-to’s and examples from successful transformations. The article is worth reading and the steps, worth following if you are attempting to lead major change.

However, we must add a caution: These steps are easier said than done. There is nothing easy about being a change leader. It’s hard work and certainly not for wimps.

Before leaders can inspire others to change, they must be willing to change themselves first.

This requires the introspection Giacoman suggests leaders must do — the honest, inward look at their values, behaviors, and goals. If these three are at odds with each other or run contrary to the desired change, leaders must make the personal changes to get them aligned in a way that is consistent and easily observable by employees. Without this, trust cannot be built or maintained, and we’re back to the hard truth we discussed earlier: People won’t follow leaders they don’t trust.

Personal change takes courage and steadfast determination. Making these changes can cause leaders to feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. But the work has to be done because leading lasting change can’t be outsourced. Leaders must carry the banner of change for their companies by going first and leading by doing.

No one else can lead for them.

Contact us and we can help you better understand what is needed for you to lead successful change in your company.