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How good leadership can help businesses adapt to change

by Chloe Baird

Change can be scary. Change can be difficult. But more often than not, change is necessary for businesses (and people) to grow.

Remaining flexible and adaptable in business is incredibly important. Businesses that are able to adapt to trends and fluctuations in the industry or workforce are the ones that will come out on top. And they need determined, visionary, agile people in leadership roles to do this.

For example, did you know that back in the year 2000, Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix? At the time, Netflix was still a mail-order DVD rental service. Blockbuster had the opportunity to buy Netflix for a measly $50 million USD, but refused, reasoning that Netflix was nothing but a small-time niche.

Fast forward to 2020. Netflix has more than 150 million subscribers worldwide. The company is worth an estimated $125 billion USD. And they ranked at number 26 on Forbes’ “World’s Most Valuable Brands 2020” list.

In comparison, when was the last time you saw a Blockbuster store?

Read on to find out how strong leadership can help businesses adapt to change and remain relevant and successful.

Why is it important for businesses to adapt to change?

Being able to pre-empt and react to changes, and being agile enough to respond quickly, are invaluable traits for any business.

But to be able to make these decisions and respond to changes, you need people in leadership positions who are willing to take the business in a new direction.

We’ve also seen other examples of businesses adapting to change during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. There are distilleries around the country that have begun producing hand sanitiser. A millinery in Melbourne has switched gears and begun making reusable masks instead of hats. And many people are currently working from home with remote set-ups facilitated by their companies to ensure ongoing productivity.

How does a good leader adapt to change?

Leadership Meeting

A good leader should have the foresight to see change coming, and the smarts and drive to push the business in a new direction when it’s needed.

Being reactionary is important (as the alternative is stagnation). But it’s not enough to just react to things as they occur. A good leader should be able to read industry trends, forecasts and updates and be able to apply them to the business. They should be able to drive change and encourage others to embrace new opportunities. 

Open Colleges has been around for 125 years. But we’ve kept up with the changing nature of distance education at every step of the way. Our courses were first delivered by snail mail, then CD-ROM, and now they’re facilitated online. Open Colleges wouldn’t exist today if those in leadership roles hadn’t had the foresight to see just what the birth of the internet would mean for the future of online education.

What are the different leadership styles?

There are many different styles of leadership. Here are 5 of the most common examples of leadership types:

  1. Democratic
    A democratic leader is someone who believes in listening to others and garnering feedback to help in their decision making process. The democratic leader will be there to offer guidance, advice and support where it’s needed to make sure things stay on track and the goals of the team and company are reached.
    They can enable change by listening to what their team members have to say and deciding on the best course of action for everyone.
  2. Authoritarian
    An authoritarian, or autocratic leader, is someone who is focused on results and efficiency. Often, they are the sole decision maker. They trust their team to do as they’re instructed to achieve the desired results.
    They can enact change by monitoring changes and trends, and then instructing their employees in new ways to work to achieve new goals.
  3. Coach
    A coach leader has a knack for spotting peoples’ strengths and weaknesses. A coach leader will help team members set goals, provide feedback and constructive criticism, and push people to reach their full potential.
    They can achieve change by actively mentoring their employees and fostering creativity.
  4. Hands-off
    This is the complete opposite to the authoritarian leader. The hands-off leader will often delegate tasks to other team members. But this is not because they’re lazy – they just understand that their team works best when they’re able to make their own decisions and not working under strict supervision. So long as the company is meeting its goals, the hands-off leader is happy to delegate tasks.
    They can facilitate change by allowing creativity to flourish while employees have a sense of responsibility and autonomy.
  5. Transactional
    A transactional style of leadership is most suited to a fast-paced, sales driven environment, such as a call centre. The transactional leader is focused on results and efficiency, and they usually encourage their employees to perform well by offering rewards (such as a bonus). To ensure the team is reaching its goals, the transactional leader will also seek to mentor and provide the proper training for their employees.
    They can bring about change by encouraging their employees to work hard to achieve their goals, and monitoring industry trends to ensure that the team is on track.

What leadership style is best for change?

Is there one style of leadership that is better at adapting to change than others?

It’s impossible to say what is the overall best style of leadership, because it all depends on the kind of person you are, and what kind of company you work for. For example, working in a government office would require a different leadership style to working at Google.

But there are ways you can hone your skills and work to become the best leader you can be.

At Open Colleges, we have a range of online business and leadership courses that can help you reach your potential. If you’re currently working in a leadership position and want to formalise your experience or learn more about how you can be a better leader, or if you’re angling for a promotion, take a look at our business and leadership courses here.  

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