Engaging leadership to deliver transformational change

To deliver an effective transformational change programme, it is critical to ensure a clear strategic vision is outlined, or an acceptance of the need to formulate this vision at the very least. It needs recognition of where the organisation is at now and the work that’s required to take it forward and realise that vision.

This vision needs to be a shared vision, right across the leadership team and beyond. When it comes to government organisations such as the police, their first duty is the safety and security of the population. This, therefore, has to be the bedrock of any transformational change programme.

Transformational change can be a daunting prospect for those who would be responsible for delivering it. People know they want the change, but the task at hand can be seen to be enormous, too complex, and bringing too many risks. This can cause a sort of organisational paralysis, particularly when the change goes against cultural norms and the traditional way of doing things.

Change in itself presents a huge operational risk. When change occurs dynamically and quickly from what people have been used to, this can form a barrier for people when it comes to adopting new systems and operating procedures. Strong leadership is required from the top-down – ensuring the necessary corporate communications are in place which lets people know, both publicly and politically,  why the change is necessary, how people will benefit from the change and the potential implications from not implementing that change.

The complexities of transformational change in post-conflict environments

Achieving the buy-in from the necessary leadership figures can be particularly challenging in post-conflict countries. In the case of Libya, which is still feeling the effects of 50 years of Gaddafi rule followed by nine years of internal conflict and strife, there is a great deal of infrastructure building required to facilitate transformational change. This means that leadership has to be committed to the longevity of the project, which could be as much as 20 years, in order to bring prosperity to the population.

Given the instability of the political platform in this type of environment, it can be difficult to reach a consensus at the highest level of leadership, and therefore commit to the timeframe required to deliver meaningful change.

The security environment presents additional risks. In Libya, there is a footprint of ex-combatants and mercenaries and tensions between the east and the west for military power and control of the country remain.

This reinforces the importance of understanding and assimilating the culture. Only then can you build the strong relationships with key stakeholders required to even get a reform programme off the ground. The culture needs to be ready to understand and accept the transformational change with everybody feeling as though they are part of it, owns it and believes in it.

Referring back to the example of Libya, there is a widespread desire to improve the day to day lives of citizens, a want for peace, security and stability and a hunger to embrace the change required to make it happen. The reality is that, as with organisations of any kind, there are winners and losers out of change. While there is a large ground-level presence who are eager for change, there are some who will be fearful of what the future holds for them and their power base.

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