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The Changemakers: Authenticity for Successful Transformation

Authored by Chelsea Foxwell, Head of People and Organisational Transformation – Partner, Uptake for PM Group Worldwide Ltd, PME Magazine.

The need to transform the way you work, the services you deliver and the clients you work with are a few of the only certainties in today’s corporate world.  As leaders, the expectation is to successfully transform our organisations, while simultaneously ensuring we continue to deliver high-quality services.

This is no small feat.

Internal transformation and change programmes often distract and disrupt teams’ day-to-day activities, and the cost of this is usually felt across efficiency and performance, client service levels, rate of innovation, and ultimately, financial results.

At Uptake, we take an approach to transformation which gives leaders the proven techniques to gain stakeholder buy-in for their changes, maintain focus on delivery, and achieve adoption of new ways of working, paving the path for future success.

The golden thread throughout this is authenticity.

Six observed behaviours of authentic change leaders

Across our global pharmaceutical client-base, these six behaviours have consistently resulted in sustained success:


  1. Be authentic about your ‘why’.

To truly build belief and gain support, you must carefully craft your narrative about why the business needs to change, what is not working today, and what is exciting about future possibilities.  Bring this to life with examples and make it relevant to different roles, markets, and teams.  Make these messages unique to your business, not the high-level generic messaging, which we have all heard before.


  1. Authentically engage with leaders and influencers.

Carefully identify your network of critical leaders and potential internal influencers, then invest time with them to develop your messaging, plans, and approach. Ensure they feel heard and ask for their help to create support throughout the business for these changes. Agree on a plan to regularly hear from and update them on progress throughout the transformation.


  1. Get authentic about your ‘how’.

Too often, leaders try to force change in teams already at maximum capacity. Transformation requires space, so do not underestimate this. Review your project list, and business-as-usual activities and try to identify at least 20% of activities that you can stop.

You and your team will need time to implement, communicate and measure the changes you are trying to make.  Your teams will need time to engage with the changes, test them out, input and make the mindset adjustments to make the change successful.


  1. Make decisions with authenticity.

Be clear about who the decision makers are regarding the changes, the key milestones which need to be met, and the success criteria being used.  Provide regular updates on progress, being open about what is and is not going well.

Consciously think about whose feedback you need to seek throughout the process – and act upon it. Your change will be significantly more difficult to embed if people don’t feel heard.


  1. Be authentic with your celebrations!

Create the right balance between recognising and celebrating the success of the current and past ways of working and talking about the current issues or problems which have led to the need to change.

Talk openly about achievable success in the future and be sure to celebrate the quick and small wins as you navigate the journey of transformation.  Create excitement about reactions to the changes from clients and team members.  Share your optimism about how the results will set the business up for long-term success and growth.


  1. Authentically prioritise a mindset shift.

Do not fall at the final hurdle! Share the new ways of working with your team and communicate in real time how things will work in the future, including clarity about accountabilities, handover points, success metrics and new processes.

Invest in elevating training and communication materials, which get your teams to engage in a fun or playful way with the new ways of working.  Make the future feel different to today, and celebrate the benefits of working in this new way and the opportunities it presents to the business, individuals and clients.

Remember, John Kotter’s research confirms that only 30% of major change efforts succeed. From our own work, we believe that leaders who adopt these six behaviours will place themselves in a strong position to be a trailblazing, transformational changemaker.

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Meet Uptake’s Organisational Transformation Experts:

Chelsea Foxwell

Head of Transformation

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Caroline Horwood

Practice Principal

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Jon Crompton

Senior Principal

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Stephanie Hall

Founder & CEO

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