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How to ensure your leaders are armed for change

How to ensure your leaders are armed for change

In a recent study of over 7,000 employers across APAC we found that the ability to manage and drive change was the number one competency lacking in workplaces today. While we were not surprised at the veracity of the finding, it is a concern given the pace of change currently going on.

Incredibly turbulent and characterised by short economic cycles, external market influences, interest rate unpredictability and shifting geopolitical patterns, our world is being reshaped and resized by the digital revolution. With the advent of new technologies and digital disruption has come a change in customer expectations and a paradigm shift in how businesses think and operate.

In anyone’s language, we are in the midst of an evolution, one that is moving faster than ever before.

Businesses today – all operating in the context of a social, technological and economic evolution – need people who can not only deal with change but embrace it. They need people who can both handle the increasing amount of change in today’s world and who can lead and innovate through that.

Many CEOs I know are grappling with one major question: ‘How do we create a work environment, a culture, where we can deal with this change in an ongoing and dynamic way?’

It requires people, particularly leaders, who are skilled at driving and managing change. Yet these kind of skills can be difficult to master and those kind of people hard to find.

What does good look like?

When it comes to ‘Managing & Driving Change’ at a day-to-day level, what does good actually look like?

It involves two things: managing ambiguity and uncertainty, and challenging the status quo.

Managing ambiguity is about making sound decisions and providing direction in a highly uncertain environment – without always having complete information to hand.

Challenging the status quo is about asking hard questions and seeking unusual answers. The environment we operate in today has changed so much that we need to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our perspectives.

To be able to do either of these things, leaders need courage and resilience. And the ante has upped: leaders always needed an element of courage and resilience but because of today’s levels of uncertainty and the exponential amount of change, today it is even more important.

How to tell if your people have what it takes

The good news is you can gain insight into how well-suited a person is to driving and managing change today by looking at their natural comfort with change. The best way to do so is through assessing through personality profiling, which detail a person’s innate behavioural preferences.

In Hudson’s Business Attitudes Questionnaire (BAQ) for example, personality traits within the domain of Emotional stability will give you insight into an individual’s level of personal resilience – in other words, whether they are generally calm and relaxed and approach stress situations without tension. These personality traits include:

  • Relaxed
  • Optimistic
  • Stress resistance

Another domain in the Hudson BAQ, the domain of Openness, will give you insights into a person’s propensity for change and for challenging the status quo. This domain looks at personality traits such as:

  • Change orientated
  • Open minded
  • Innovative

This highly valuable data can give you insights into how to effectively coach and support the leaders you have to be effective at managing change – and will provide a robust selection methodology to select those leaders you need in the future.

Whether it’s leadership programs or on-on-one coaching, all people can be developed to become more action-oriented, to deal better with ambiguity and to change their perspective from a fixed view of how things should be to a mindset geared more to growth and enquiry. If you have a leader who is change-averse they may never be fully comfortable with change, but you can get them more comfortable with it.

And the more comfortable they are with it, the more you are ensuring your business has the bench strength to thrive and grow in today’s fast-changing world.

Coaching activity to help people manage uncertainty

Think of a recent decision that turned out well, and list all the information and data you felt was necessary to effectively make the decision. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, look back on the minimum amount of data you could actually have used to make the decision. Finally, review this list of minimum data again and ask yourself ‘If you could only have 60% of that data, which data points would have given you the strongest indication of the right decision to make?’

What people learn here is firstly which data they really need to make decisions and which they don’t. But they also learn they can make sound decisions without all the information to hand – and for a leader today, that’s a powerful realisation.

7190 employers across APAC:
AU 3,793 - The Hudson Report - Forward Focus Australia
CN 1,588 - The Hudson Report - Forward Focus China
HK 238 - The Hudson Report - Forward Focus Hong Kong
NZ 1,188 - The Hudson Report - Forward Focus New Zealand
SG 383 - The Hudson Report - Forward Focus Singapore


Mark Steyn is CEO of Hudson Asia Pacific, responsible for establishing Hudson as the region’s pre-eminent provider of talent solutions, as well as driving growth across Hudson's three business lines: specialised recruitment, Recruitment Process Outsourcing and Talent Management.



Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.

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