Leading Change and Managing Change

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Mark Complete

Leading Change

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A 2017 Harvard Business Review article identifies attributes of high performing CEOs (Botelho, Powell, Kincaid, & Wan, 2017). As the team sifted through data from the 10-year research study, the following four attributes emerged as keys to success for an executive leader:

  • Deciding with Speed and Conviction

  • Engaging for Impact

  • Adapting Proactively

  • Delivering Reliably

Adapting proactively is easily related to leading change. This attribute means the leader has some indication that a change is about to occur and does not wait for the change to occur before acting in a way that positions the organization for success. A leader’s place is out in front; making the move to prepare the team for the change and for victory. By doing so, the team is not only prepared, but the change is likely not even a ripple of disruption to the system.

Managing change is different. The management of change comes into play after the proactive moves are made and the process for implementing or executing within the adjusted system is in place. The role of a manager is to reduce or eliminate distractions. Managers help the team maintain focus and continue to work toward goals. It is also important for managers to consistently recognize the achievements of team members in the effort to achieve.


Change is constant for all of us. This is true in our personal lives—I think about iPhone changes that send me into fits of frenzy. Changes also occur daily in our work lives. Because change causes us to adjust routines and thinking, it can be frustrating. Often, change is positive and helps us to be more efficient, effective, and to continue to focus on the worthwhile with our customers and clients.

It is important for leaders to model the way when it comes to change. Change is easier to later manage, when leaders transparently communicate the why for change. It is also critical to help teams see how the change will impact them individually. How will it benefit the team? How will it benefit each team member? A team must understand the why for the change if it is to embrace the right sense of urgency and move to successful implementation.


A vision for incorporating and implementing change is important for the organization. This vision becomes part of the communication of the why that creates that right amount of urgency. This vision, when effectively and clearly shared, also helps create buy-in for all team members.

Once the direction for change is set, the plan of action and who is responsible for what should be quickly determined. It is important for leaders to consistently communicate about the progress of the plan for them change. It is equally important to celebrate wins along the way and adjust where goals or benchmarks are not met. Keep the team moving toward implementation with open and consistent communication.

Embracing change positively alters the culture of an organization. Being continually proactive with change and change implementation plans increases agility in the organization. In times of continual change, we know agility to respond to different factors is the key to succeeding and thriving.


Are we agile enough in today’s world to be successful?

Can we transform and get in front of change to meet the needs of the people we serve?


Change can be uncomfortable.

The initial reaction is to slow down and back off because leaders tend to be uncomfortable with discomfort. This is the most important time to keep the throttle down.

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