4 Effective Ways Leaders Introduce Change into Their Organization

Organizations are reshaping themselves and requiring that they change quickly in order to be competitive.  Customers are demanding more; excellence in service is becoming paramount; technology is constantly changing; the workforce needs are shifting;   and processes need constant improvements to meet these demands and changes.

Introducing and managing that change in an effective and efficient way is critical to every leader’s success. But with change comes resistance.  Meeting that resistance is one of the biggest challenges leaders face.  The more a leader understands the importance of driving the change cycle and the change management process, the more he or she can be at the helm of that change initiative.

Here are four ways a leader can act as a change agent to facilitate the change and increase the probability for successfully introducing the change into the organization.

Establish yourself as a role model

People look to leaders for guidance and inspiration. They view the leader’s position as a role model and an effective foundation on which to build the groundwork for change.

  • The successful leader inspires through their passion for the work, and willingness to take responsibility. They lead with energy and a positive tone every day, motivating and inspiring others.
  • Leaders can help the change process by shifting people’s mindset through a well-executed approach that addresses people’s feedback and concerns
  • Great leaders are trusted for their compassion just as much as they are trusted for their ability to push forward amidst adversity.

This is especially true when seen through the eyes of the status quo: if the leader, who is a decidedly great role model, embraces the change placed in front of them, people will be more inclined to trust it.

Take the time to understand

Resistance based on protecting the status quo isn’t always as easy as someone saying “But we have always done it this way…” or “People are used to…” It can appear in body gestures from sudden jerks to arm crossing. The only way to know for sure is to know the questions to ask.

  • Successful leaders engage people in their organization to identify and analyze issues and to determine where change is needed.  They take the time to understand, especially when the culture of the work environment is one where the status quo has gained ground.
  • They zero in on the motivations behind attachment to understand the root cause behind the resistance - be it lack of understanding why the change is needed, lack of trust in leadership, skepticism that it hasn’t worked before, fear of work overload, fear of personal failure, insecurity about how it will affect jobs, or lack of connection to what’s in it for them, etc. 
  • They talk with both the opponents who resist the change and the proponents who lend a fresh point of view. 
  • When leaders take time to understand the different perspectives of their teams, they build emotional capital with their employees and a much more productive workforce.

Make change a team effort and a process

Effective leaders are also great collaborators who have the talent to develop productive teams focused on managing the change.  Using an effective and commonly applied change management process is a method leaders use to manage resistance to change.  It typically follows these four high level phases:

  • Define the change management strategy, including identifying the sponsors and the team
  • Develop an action plan that includes your communication plan and your resistance management plan
  • After the change is implemented, ensure that a post-implementation review is done to collect feedback on people’s experience with the change to see if the change has been embraced and what is needed to sustain it
  • Measure the actual benefits of the change as compared to the projected estimate of the benefit and communicate it back within the organization with lessons learned and recommendations for improvements 

By engaging a team to manage the change, you will develop a culture of trust with the focus to understand the issues and to find creative solutions together with the team.  This will help build ownership into the change effort and will shift people’s thinking towards overcoming obstacles and embracing growth opportunities.  

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

  • Don’t underestimate the need for effective communication and consistent messaging.  Most initiatives fail because there is a gap or inconsistency in the communication. 
  • Use multiple platforms or media to communicate the same message.  Remember that it takes 5-7 times to communicate a message before it is really heard.
  • Ensure sufficient employee involvement about the change and engage in two-way communications about why the change is needed. By consistently doing so, the resistance to change is minimized. 
  • When communicating, address these key areas:
    • Why the change?
    • Clearly communicate the approach for how you plan to change from the current state to the future state
    • What role different people/groups will have as part of  the change process and how the change affects them
    • When the change will happen
    • How people can be involved
  • Use formal and informal communications.  Coach  and mentor  your leaders on ensuring they are connecting, supporting and collaborating with their teams to define the change and to recognize and reward teamwork.
  • Be careful of inconsistent messages or not addressing issues that happen along the way

Resistance to change is not the cause of failure of change initiatives, it is the outcome of insufficient engagement, communication and understanding of people's needs.  The resistance will be different for each change initiative, each organization and for each leader. Everyone in the organization should be empowered to challenge the status quo when things are not working.  Then there will be no resistance when change is introduced.

Change is typically desired by employees if they see that the change will benefit them and the organization.   Most of the time, change initiatives are undertaken in organizations, but the outcome is that nothing actually changes for the better or the actual change benefits are never communicated.

When leaders engage their employees and truly involve them in a worthwhile beneficial change, most people are very willing to participate to make the change a success. 


rania-kortRania Kort is an Independent Management Consultant and Business Advisor with more than 20 years’ experience helping Fortune 100 companies successfully implement strategic initiatives. Rania has managed large-scale programs and programs, established and run PMO's and implemented process improvement in many different industries. She ran and grew an IT Management Practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers for more than seven years managing over 300 consultants.  Currently, she serves as an independent consultant focusing on achieving results through collaboration and a team leadership approach that ensures alignment, accountability and trust to develop high-performance teams.

If you would like to contact me, I can be reached either through my contact page or through LinkedIn.