Tips from a change leader Part 1

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Written by Vicky Emery

June 28, 2020

Dear effective change leader  – tips from a change leader

Photo by Peter Fazekas from Pexels free stock images.

22 years of research in change management by companies including Prosci, BHP, IBM and various consultancy firms and universities have found the same key element of successful change – effective change leadership. It is the number one success factor.

70% of projects met or exceeded expectations where the change leader was extremely effective vs 29% where the Change leader was extremely ineffective (Prosci’s Best Practices in Change Management, 2018 Edition). If you think about the changes you have underway and the value or potential pluses they can deliver, that difference really starts to stack up.

Effective change leadership does not always come with just being a people leader or senior executive – it is a change in and of itself for people who find themselves in leader roles. It is one of the toughest, bravest and intensive personal change paths. To use Prosci’s ADKAR model, it takes:

  • awareness of what we even mean by change leadership and why it matters
  • desire to want to explore the role and what ‘effective’ might take and a willingness or decision to go there
  • knowledge of how to do that ability (and that includes time, skills, resources, permission) to acquire or apply the skills of an effective change leader
  • reinforcement that supports the people leader to adopt and sustain the behavioural changes needed – for this change and the next and the next

The good news is, those skills can be applied to any change, strengthening that muscle over time. In my roles as a senior leader, as a coach for many leaders in all sorts of industries and a change practitioner, I’ve been able to gather lessons and tips that can help you be as effective as you can in leading and landing your change.

In this series, we will explore these tips. Here’s the first tip to becoming an effective change leader.

Find your drivers and how this change connects to them

I often found myself doing great as a change leader of some changes and not so great on others! I had to stop and think about what was driving me on some changes and not on others.

You may find you need to do your homework – make sure you understand the change and why the organisation needs to land it. What is in it for us if we can get this right, this time? Why is it so important? Why now? What will this change take? Read everything, talk with people, go ‘do’ the old way. You may or may not agree with the change, but be clear on the why and impacts.

Once you have good grounding in the change itself, ask yourself this question to uncover your true drivers:

What is in it for me to lead and land this change well or get it right this time?

Not what’s in it for me for this change, but to lead and land it well. Take 10 mins to answer this frankly. Writing helps – no one will see it. It’s just you talking to you. No judgement.

I have struggled with this question on some changes, not being able to see how the change itself will help. Then, when I sat with the real question, I could see how leading it well could help my team adopt it early and stop wasting time with rework, nailing outcomes earlier and keeping customers happy which was a real driver for me and the team. So my focus became leading the change for those outcomes, even though I may not have really liked the actual new solution.

Stay with this until you can connect with your drivers – it may take a few days. You will know it when you get there – it will be the compelling force that moves you into the next steps. It’s that feeling of ‘oh, right, I know where we need to go/what I need to do now’.


Taking time to learn about what is driving you to lead the change well puts you in the best position to achieve the outcomes that are important to you, your organisation, your team and customers. Being honest with yourself about your drivers is critical to then looking at what you need to be successful and move onto Part 2.

How can we help?

  • Coaching – bringing in an ‘outside’ coach can help and that’s where we come in. We are ‘neutral territory’ and our focus as a coach to you is helping you achieve the outcomes you need of the change.
  • Plan to Land Change Workshop – we work with the change leader and their steering committee or project team to build the change strategy for the change and the action plan.
  • Leading Change Program – using Human Synergistics LSI1 & 2, we explore the current and future change leadership behaviours for individual leaders and their real-life application.
  • Leader’s Roadmap Pack – leading change in a crisis – we work with the leadership team to build a short-term, quick action plan.


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