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How leaders can help change management run smoothly

Research informs us that the odds are against change management being successful. But there are some tried and tested methods we know make it work.

Many organisations are looking to make a change, in order to create new beneficial operational ways to conduct their business. Leadership plays an important role in this, and can help with the smooth running of change.

Strong leadership is an essential component for successful change in any organisation looking to maintain or improve their position in the global market.


The difference between change management and change leadership

Many people are confused about the difference between change management and change leadership. These terms are interchangeable, but the distinction between them is quite significant.

Change management is the process, techniques and tools used to prepare, support and help individuals and teams working for your organisation to ready themselves for a change. These changes could involve processes, job roles, organisation structures, and types and uses of technology. Changes are always being employed to improve performance, and are therefore important.

Change leadership is a part of change management. Using this method involves seeing change management not as a finite project – with a beginning and an end – but as an opportunity for continuous growth. Change leaders spearhead the change, advocating for the vision on a team and organisational level.

In today’s uncertain climate, leaders at all levels within the organisation should be getting involved in managing change. In our experience, change that is inspired by leaders at a senior level set the tone for frontline managers and team leaders is the best kind of change, and has a better chance of success.


Inspiring leaders and the part they play

Leaders play a huge role in inspiring their teams and looking for areas of improvement. Leaders actively engage with their team and create opportunities for them, either collectively or individually. This means your wider team can express their thoughts on areas for improvement. Your leaders should make sure team members know it is safe to make suggestions for the change, and do so of their own accord.

But it might not be that easy. Humans are creatures of habit. It’s in our nature to try to stop change from happening at all. Leaders will need to lay down a plan of action that clearly states milestones and monitors, to encourage teams whilst not overloading them with too much information.

Leaders should also make it clear why the teams are required to make the changes, and what the benefits will be to them.

Leaders are also often to embrace any tension that may arise from change management. Leaders tend to be very committed to the cause, and will be your biggest asset in these times.

Though commitment to ongoing communication and listening to those involved in the change, leaders will be able to offer resolutions, making for a smoother transition.

Below, we’ve highlighted a few of the principles leaders should embrace when leading the change.


Communication in line with the vision

Your staff need to buy into the vision of the proposed change, and leaders often help this to happen. Leaders are required to be consistent with communication, even if it becomes tedious or mundane. This could include daily updates, or more serious discussions. The leader’s message should be clear and upbeat, so that there is full understanding by those listening.

There should be a significant amount of relationship building, which may need to be tailored to connect to the individuals that make up the audience.


Keep connected

Without being fully aware of the change, leaders will have a difficult time explaining the vision and providing support. For this reason, your leader should be fully informed about the change, so that they can spearhead it.

Your leader should be approachable, and a skilled people-person. They’ll need to navigate not only accepting the change from senior leaders, but communicating it down to other team members. They need to understand the employee’s feelings towards the change, and determine the best way to encourage staff to participate. They also need to be aware of individual staff capabilities, as some staff may adapt to change quicker than others.



Fostering the desire to commit to fixing issues that may arise during the change, vision leaders become accountable for what is working and what isn’t. This means they must be willing to let others assess how they are performing. It is important this is done without blame, or else people become disenchanted. Accountable leaders will also assess the implementation of the change from an organisational perspective, looking at:

  • organisation culture
  • management
  • processes
  • teams
  • Employees.

Their job is always to ensure functionality is high, and in line with the vision. If there are issues – or something is not working – the leaders must decide on what action needs to be taken, and act on it.


Leaders are the bridge between organisation and the envisioned change

There are many moving parts when we consider change management, and the part leaders have to play in the implementation of it. When we consider leaders alone, their importance boils down to commitment, strong communication, and care.

Leaders are considered to be the bridge between the organisation and the envisioned change. It is important to understand what leaders bring to change management and how they can use their skills to make things run smoother.

Leaders must understand the vision, see the benefits of it, and then use their natural leadership abilities to get the buy-in of other teams and staff members. When asked, they should be able to clarify the vision, and how you hope to get there. They must also be willing to be held accountable.

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