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3 things successful change leaders do

change leader at a business meeting using a tablet computer - Chama change management software blog

We’ve all heard the saying that change is the only constant. The fact is, not only are business goals, technology, and processes constantly changing, but the pace of change is accelerating. Enterprise leaders must continually up their game in terms of efficiency and scalability in their change management models.

According to Gartner, only 34% of transformation initiatives are a clear success. Within the context of economic uncertainty and the proliferation of the new projects that are needed to stay competitive, improving these odds is imperative.

In this article, I’d like to share three things I’ve seen successful change leaders do in my experience as a senior change management professional and leadership coach. These three traits can help make or break a transformation initiative.

The three things that successful change leaders consistently do are:

  1. Put their thoughts into words that inspire

  2. Efficiently allocate people, resources, and time

  3. Make decisions quickly

Let’s take a closer look at each of these traits.

Put their thoughts into words that inspire

As obvious as it is, sometimes leaders forget that others can’t read their minds! As a senior executive, you know in advance which initiatives are in the works, and you’ve already given them a lot of thought. But to the rest of the organization, it can seem like they are coming out of nowhere, and stakeholders need some time to catch up.

Take some time up front to clarify the messaging around the initiative, including how it benefits stakeholders, how it aligns with the values and goals of the organization, and the overall approach. Articulate a vision of what success will look like to inspire others to come on board. Carving out this time up front will save time and improve adoption down the road.

Involve stakeholders in the conversations early and bake room into the process for two-way dialogue. When they see that the messaging is consistent and aligned with the overall strategy and values of the organization, they will more easily catch the vision and commit themselves to making it work. And showing how you’re listening and incorporating their feedback will help win over skeptics.

Remember that you as a change leader have a lot of influence over how inspired and engaged stakeholders are. Bringing on a team of seasoned change practitioners, particularly those who are well versed in leadership coaching, can help you articulate your thoughts, flesh out your ideas, and communicate them effectively at all levels of the enterprise.

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Efficiently allocate people, resources, and time

When it comes to effectively allocating people, resources and time, prioritization is key. And this is something I’ve seen every company I’ve worked with struggle to master.

Put yourselves for a moment in the shoes of the end users who will need to change the way they work (something we at iTalent Digital refer to as the “big flip” to the stakeholder view).

Think about what the process looks like end to end. This starts from the time they first hear about the change and begin receiving information requests, and continues through attending meetings and completing training, all the way to putting their new skills into practice.

Make sure the process, requirements, and expectations for each of these stages are communicated early, clearly, and consistently.

Make decisions quickly

A leader’s ability to make decisions quickly helps keep projects moving forward. A leader’s job is to help alleviate obstacles that can weigh down progress, as well as help foresee and mitigate risk.

In order to make good decisions quickly, you need access to reliable, up-to-date data. I always recommend that an intelligent software platform be used to capture, analyze and report on the data. Manual reporting worked in the past, but with today’s pace of acceleration in the marketplace, legacy reporting processes simply can’t keep up.

Hand in hand with getting good data is asking the right questions. This means leaders must master the art of active listening. Rather than just holding teams accountable for checking boxes or completing items on a to-do list, ask them questions that will help you make good decisions quickly.

You want to ask questions such as: Do you have all the information you need? Does this align with the company’s strategy and values? Does this support the project’s vision and guiding principles? What are the risks and issues that might arise from this decision?


Staying on top of transformation initiatives as they accelerate and proliferate requires solid leadership skills in addition to change management experience. Taking the time to make sure actions and decisions are based on the key traits discussed here will help ensure your projects are a success.

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