How to become a great leader during highly disruptive change

Change is inevitable and the only constant in today’s fast-moving, dynamic business environment.

Some changes can be minor or incremental while other changes can be disruptive.

Leaders are responsible for many tasks but the most important is managing their organization and employees through change.

To compete effectively, companies must learn how to manage disruptive change, which occurs when business models are fundamentally transformed or reinvented. Technology, globalization and evolving customer behaviors are all factors in bringing about disruptive change.

Disruptive change is now the rule rather than the exception and they occur in every industry.

Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi business, Airbnb has given the hotel business new competition and brisk and mortar stores now compete with online stores such as Amazon.

For an organization to survive a highly disruptive change, leaders must be able to adapt and help guide the business and employees through the uncertainty and confusion brought about by the disruption.

This article will outline what leaders can do to effectively guide their teams through transformation and change.

Team Management

Important Team Management

Leadership and employees generally react differently to change. However, to overcome the challenges of disruptive change, the entire organization company needs to be involved and on the same page.

“During times of change, employees will turn to their superiors for leadership advice and guidance. They will be particularly worried about how the change will impact their jobs. Communication is key. As leaders, we should clearly explain how the change will impact employees, affect business objectives, and be willing to answer employee questions.” Jeff Arnett, CEO of an event security product manufacturer

Involving employees in the changes will help put their minds at ease. Allow employees to share ideas and to be involved in the change. When employees are heard, they value their job better and are loyal to their employer.

Be open to employee suggestions and be willing to create a new vision. Employees should be able to communicate with their superiors without hesitation.  Remember, a team’s performance is reflective of their leader. If your employees embrace and thrive during change, you will be viewed in a positive light.

Adapt to Change

While some leaders are successful at proactively managing and leveraging change, others fall behind because they don’t acknowledge how the change will affect the organization.

Learning to adapt and embrace change is a must for leaders. Companies failing to adapt to change will be left behind and face major consequences. Those companies who successful weather highly disruptive change have one thing in common – a great leader who can adapt and embrace change.

One example of the inability to adapt to change is Blockbuster Video. When Netflix emerged, Blockbuster thought no one would want to wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail when they could go to a store to get them. The company didn’t anticipate Netflix’s arrival was the harbinger of a significant change in home entertainment – streaming. Instead, Blockbuster continued to rely on their business model and was unable to adapt to Netflix’s disruption of the DVD and video market.

When Blockbuster finally attempted to adjust, it was too late as other players such as Roku, TiVo and Amazon had anticipated the disruptive change.

The company is no longer in business.

The popular retail store Forevever21, recently announced they will be shutting down about 178 of its retail stores due to bankruptcy. The well-known retailers with 815 stores cannot compete with online stores and boutiques.

Everything is getting more digital and people are finding alternatives for the way they normally do things. Industries are changing the in-store physical experience for individuals by delivering their products to their doors. Different industries have acted and are adjusting to meet consumer needs.

Why visit your optometrist, when you can go online and have your glasses or contacts delivered to your home?

For those who do not have time to grocery shop after work, there is no need to rush to the supermarket since you have Amazon Fresh to your availability; where you decide what groceries you need in your fridge and have them delivered to your home.

The modernization we continue to see allows processes to be more efficient, save time, and fulfill our needs as consumers. We have seen brands such as Nike improve over time with their customization features on their products allowing to perform any request among consumers.

Leaders need to leave fear at the door and not be afraid to take risks. It’s important to create a positive environment and not show any negativity. When a leader expresses negativity, it is more likely to affect the team as well. Especially during stressful times such as these, you must remain calm and find ways to manage your stress to have a clear mind to perform well.

Employees expect their superiors to guide them and be resourceful during times of difficulty. Leaders need to have a strategic mindset and understand how to realistically achieve goals. Create new rules and procedures that will benefit your business with the new change around you.


Explore and Believe

As everything around you changes, leaders must believe in themselves and their leadership capabilities. They also need to believe in their teams and trust their employees to do what needs to be done.

If you are faced with a disappointing outcome, ask yourself what you can learn from the experience and what you can do differently.

Be a Leader with Solutions   

In a time of difficulty, employees look for guidance and expect their leaders to have such capability.

Sacha Ferrandi, real estate expert and founder of Texas Hard Money First explains how leaders should respond when dealing with changes.

“Whether changes are related to the market, new technology, competitor moves, customer feedback or another area, leaders need to be able to be resourceful and find solutions rather than let chaos reign. Leaders need to step up and take action by devising a plan, guiding others, see the bigger picture and thrive with whatever comes their way.” — Sacha Ferrandi

Leaders must train themselves to recognize the early signs of disruptive change. Look for signs of customer restlessness, competitors doing something different and financial statements.

Get inspired, do research, and look at what others are doing to see how you can step up to the plate and drive your business forward as well.


When you think about some great leaders who have successfully guided their companies through disruptive change, the names Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk often come up.

They are all leaders with a strong reputation for embracing change and consistently managing their companies through disruptive transformations.

To guide your company effectively through times of change, you must learn the characteristics of a successful change leader.

You should never take the change process for granted and do not assume all your employees understand or accept the change. By using the strategies mentioned in this article, you can become a great leader able to navigate highly disruptive change.

This guest blog article was written by Karina Mojica who is a contributor editor for 365 Business tips and a marketing expert for an online kitchen and bath supplier. She has a degree in Marketing, with experience in PR, and social media marketing.