Working with change leaders – what can different styles bring to a change?


Written by Vicky Emery

May 6, 2020

Photo by Alex Andrews from Pexels.

22 years of research in change management by companies including Prosci, BHP, IBM and various consultancy firms and universities has found the same key element of successful change – effective sponsorship. 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). And still, only 50% of change leaders have a clear understanding of their role.

I am going to use some different language in this blog – I am swapping ‘sponsor’ for change leader. This can be someone at any level in the organisation that is responsible for leading others to adopt the change to achieve the targeted outcomes.

Our role as change practitioners is to work with the change leader to achieve the outcomes needed from the change and to help them be as effective as possible as they lead and land the change.

Effective change leaders

Effective change leadership does not always just come with the title, becoming a people leader or senior executive – it is a change in and of itself for people who find themselves in leadership roles.
What makes a change leader effective is the topic of other blogs. In this series, we look at some of the styles you may find yourself working with. Each brings its strengths and risks. The quicker you can work out what they are, the quicker you can tailor your approach to working well together.

The good news is, building this skill can be applied to any change, strengthening that muscle over time. Learning about what works with each style goes into your kit bag as a practitioner.

Change leaders you may encounter – what do they bring to their change and how to work with it

We will look at just three styles in this series:

  • the overloaded change leader
  • the evangelical change leader
  • the subject matter expert change leader

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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