What is Successful Change Leadership Really About?

The Greatest Leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things, but the leader who gets people to do the greatest things.

During our lives and in our careers, we get to know leaders with a wide range of characteristics, either from close or far distance. Although practical experience is a great teacher, leaders who inspire us from wide distance do often become more influential, and more significant, in our growth towards leadership excellence. This is especially true if you, as a continuously developing leader learn through observation, a developing and learning technique that can include anything possible for higher development, evolving, and learning.

In some contexts, change management is referred to as something related to IT project management, process creation and development, but change leadership is a much wider context, and change leadership always puts either individuals, groups of people, teams, or complete organizations at the core, thus making it a people-centered approach. In its farthest reaching context and meaning, change leadership signifies the capability of thinking out of the box, seeing the problems, potentials, and solutions, stretching far beyond to what may be common day practice, and focusing upon creating completely new solutions.

Ultimately, change always begins within an individual. Although we are all products of our environments, and our societies, we do always have the possibility to see what is necessary, to create what is necessary, and to lead change that is necessary. To lead change, you must always be willing to change yourself first. To lead change that is significant to your values, you must first see, and visualize what is important to you, and what changes you want to see, and to lead, in your personal life, and possibly, in the lives of others.

Organizational change is a separate theme. The best, and most valuable organizations, do include and let everyone in the organization be part of the organizational development, and the change process. They do even include (wisely!), their clients and other shareholders in the process through a number of methods. In today’s world, in fact no organization can afford not including their employees, stakeholders, and shareholders to become a part of the change process, or change communication process. Organizations, in fact, should listen very carefully to how employees and other significant stakeholders respond to, and what changes they would like to see in the organization.

Effective change leadership, depending upon your mission and vision, includes:

  • How you, as a change leader, perceive society, people, and organizations around you

What is your role, as an individual, a team member, a leader, and as “a part” of society? Are you ultimately happy with how things are, with your career, and with your life? Many people probably respond with a “no” to these two questions, while others are unsure, and others respond with a “yes”. If you responded with a no, or unsure, you know that something is not right, either in your career, or in your life in general.

  • Becoming aware, as a change leader, of the changes you need to make, or the changes you want to pursue, in one of the areas of your life (or, in the lives of others)

Awareness is at the core of your personal awakening process towards the fact that something has to change. You will not only recognize that something has to change, but also WHAT has to change. Before leading others in the change process, you MUST become and create that change in yourself, and in your personal life.

Leaders do not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk

True leaders never ask others to do something they are not capable of themselves. Let’s say, you want the whole world to become vegan, but you keep on eating meat yourself. Is there not a huge dilemma, and a problem? Before expecting anything from other people, make sure to fulfill the requirements you demand in your personal life, career, and leadership practices. The most annoying thing is seeing leaders (managers?) who criticize and demand others to deliver, without having the capability or requirements themselves.

  • Be authentic, and live according to your true values

Create and live the life you were meant to live. If you feel like you are in a rut in your current job, take the necessary steps to create the changes that you wish to see in your work environment. After all, we spend a significant part of our lives working, and everyone wants to do rewarding work. And, rewarding work includes much more than going to work and sitting around waiting for the monthly paycheck. There are other ways. Do not wait to fulfill your true dreams and desires until retirement. Instead, take the necessary steps in order to create the life you truly want, as soon as possible. True change leadership is about living according to your dreams and desires, and fulfilling the changes you wish to see in this world, and about making things happen, instead of waiting around, and building negative feelings inside you, and bad habits in your life due to the lack of satisfaction, and the lack of fulfillment, in one or several areas of your life.

Implement Change Powerfully and Successfully With Kotter’s Eight-Step Change Model:

Thank you for reading, commenting, liking, and especially for sharing. Remember, sharing is caring, and if you found this post useful, please increase the chances of effective change leadership through sharing this post. 





Communication is Powerful – Use it Wisely


When we change the way we communicate, we change society (Clay Sharky)

Do you know how a satellite communicates? A satellite is something that orbits, i.e. circles around a larger entity, like planet Earth. The Moon is a natural satellite of planet Earth, and one of the largest in our solar system. The Moon, in synchronous rotation with our home planet, has a gravitational influence that produces our ocean tides and the slight lengthening of our day.

Invented by scientists and technologists, artificial satellites have been designed to perform certain duties for mankind, such as making it possible for us to receive television signals (watch TV), enabling us to communicate in a number of ways, including on and through the Internet. Some satellites have been designed to observe the weather, or take accurate pictures of the Earth´s surface. Kept in place by gravity and centrifugal force, a man-designed satellite helps us communicate and learn more about our planet.

Satellites help countries develop trade opportunities and increase business (Wayana Software. Geosats.com. 2015).

Satellites are artificially intelligent since they filter, receive, transform, and send out exactly the right information that they were designed to do. Nothing more, and nothing less.

The Dalai Lama has stated that humanity has more conveniences, but less time, more experts, but an increased amount of problems, more artificially built intelligence that stores and provides us with more information and knowledge but also altering our way of communication.

How I personally have translated the message of The Dalai Lama is that with all the capacity mankind has to develop artificial intelligence and various kinds of communication tools, we should also be capable of transforming all the information and knowledge that is available to us, into wisdom. Transform all the data and information into wisdom to solve many, or all, of the problems created by humanity because yes, most of the problems on planet Earth have been created by mankind itself.

Many of the world´s problems, and our everyday life problems, could be solved through improved communication. Communication, like the satellite example demonstrates, has a much wider meaning than our personal speech, or the language we use when we write or speak. Speech and words in a written form are only a tiny part of our entire communication system, but yet, words are powerful and ought to be used wisely.

Words and speech are a reproduction of how we perceive our environment, how we personally receive the signals being sent to us from our surroundings, how our mental schemes help us to filter out what is essential and important to us, and how we manage to translate these mental schemes (based upon personal experiences) and send out the messages that are aligned with our personal belief systems and values.

Those who understand the power of their words, and the way these are expressed, including our personal energetic field, body language, gestures, also have wisdom enough to be considerate in their communication. Communication can be trained, and improved through a variety of techniques.

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder (Rumi)

Appreciative inquiry, a model for analysis and a social constructionist approach used for a variety of purposes, focuses upon appreciating what is, envisioning a possible future state, engaging in dialogue, and innovating the future. In my work life, I have used appreciative inquiry to conduct research e.g. upon organizational values, but also as a simplified tool in everyday dialogue and communication with people.

Learn more about appreciative inquiry, improvisation and relational leading in Taosinstitutes video with the same name:

Listen with ears of tolerance, see through eyes of compassion, speak with the language of love (Rumi)

Thank you for engaging in dialogue and for being considerate in your day-to-day communication.



How Can Leaders Master Waves of Change?


Photo: Anne-Maria Yritys. California.

“The Pessimist complains about the wind; the Optimist expects it to change; the Realist adjusts the sails” (William Arthur Ward)

…The Surfer rides the waves of change. Sometimes falling, but always climbing back upon the surfing board, without giving up: 


The Weather Channel´s Big Waves Surfing video is a rather extreme example, and the purpose of sharing it is by no means a suggestion for anyone to try anything similar out personally, only to serve as a demonstration for the kind of attitude embracing change may require.

Regardless of your formal status, in your mind you can become a brave surfer who learns to master small and big waves, riding your surfing board through the waves of personal and business life.

The benefits of “mental surfing”:

  • Activity – keeps you going and hinders you from stagnation

“A rolling stone gathers no moss”

  • Anticipation – forecasting everything (with a 100 % accuracy) is impossible, but anticipation is equal to being prepared

“Why do great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening”. (Roger Rosenblatt)

  • Consciousness – regular “mind-surfing” enhances your awakening-process and helps you reach untapped potential within yourself

“You are an explorer, and you represent our species, and the greatest good you can do is to bring back a new idea, because our world is endangered by the absence of good ideas. Our world is in crisis because of the absence of consciousness”. (Terence McKenna)

  • Creativity – like surfing, creativity is hard work

“Creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration”.

  • Development – activity together with consciousness lead to development, which is relevant for mastering change successfully

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership”. (Harvey S. Firestone)

  • Education – the more you educate yourself, the better you are prepared for mastering change

“The true purpose of education is to make minds, not careers” (William Deresiewicz)

  • Fantasy – Daydreaming and regular stargazing are said to increase health

“If you can dream it, you can do it” (Walt Disney)

  • Innovation – All of the above are essential to your personal innovation process (and, for innovation in general)

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable”. (William Pollard)

  • Learning – Change is always about learning

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward”. (Henry Ford)

  • Mental mapping/training – A surfer, or any other (sports) person has to train his/her mind, and have the capability of building maps that can be useful when implemented into action in the physical world

“If the brain is a lock, the mind map is the key” (Bob Pike)

  • NLP – Neuro-linguistic programming as a multi-dimensional process develops behavioral competence and flexibility in addition to being a “tool” for self-discovery

“What we think we become – your voice can change the world”

  • Open-mindedness – Only with an open mind can we reach higher levels of consciousness and extend our learning experiences

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” (Albert Einstein)

  • Playfulness – children are naturally playful, but playfulness is important throughout life in order to embrace, and live change

“Life is playfulness – we need to play so that we can rediscover the magical around us” (Flora Colao)

  • Rest – Our bodies and minds need enough rest in order to stay creative

“Rest. Sleep. Let your mind have the dream s/he desires and let your body have the peace s/he deserves”.

  • Silence – Recommended reading (if you haven´t read it already): Silence – The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise (Thich Nhat Hanh)

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom” (Francis Bacon)

  • Turbulence – Life, and the world, can sometimes feel turbulent. When we all learn how to stay calm in our minds, the world will not be the same again.

“Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity. Let’s love turbulence and use it for change”. (Ramsey Clark)

  • Vision – There are many ways of strengthening personal vision. Vision can be enhanced through various means, such as balancing one´s chakras, and activation of the pineal gland (third eye chakra), through regular meditation and/or yoga.

“Don’t underestimate the power of your vision to change the world. Whether that world is your office, your community, an industry or a global movement, you need to have a core belief that what you contribute can fundamentally change the paradigm or way of thinking about problems”. (Leroy Hood)

“Continuous personal development is the best possible investment”.

What is Successful Change Leadership?

Change Leadership, in its very essence, should focus upon improvement and growth. Without an actual purpose, and driving change only for the sake of change, change is a waste of everyone’s time.

Well organized is half done, but only very successful plans always have space for modifications. Only geniuses can master chaos, and however much we love agile project management, an essential skill for any change leader is the ability of focusing on key strategic issues, drive change with a dynamic effort, and with the goal in mind. (Green, M. Change Management Masterclass. 2007.)

Leading change equals the ability of leading development through enabling continuous growth, and improvement. Leading change is also strategy, and an ability of analyzing the PESTLE environment. In organizational settings, change management programs and projects need to be based upon the organization’s vision, mission, and strategy. Change projects, however narrow or extensive, will be successful when core values, goals, constant work, and communication are well aligned. Depending upon the needs and the breadth of the change initiative, mobilizing everyone involved is of utmost importance. In the organizational setting, change has to be led simultaneously and with consistent throughout the whole organization, and on an individual level. Traditionally, change has been thought of as something activated and triggered from top management, but in today’s learning organizations change initiatives can come from anyone, and basically anyone in an organization can be a change agent, formally or informally. In any organization, it is important for management to understand, that the needs for change may also be communicated from employees who are in direct customer contact, e.g. based upon feedback from customers. Therefore, in traditional, hierarchical settings, change can very well be initiated from a “lower” organizational level upwards. In democratic, low-hierarchy organizations, change projects can be successfully executed through participation of everyone involved. Successful involvement also increases the level of integrity. The most successful organizations also know how to involve their clients when driving change.  


                   “One person can be a change catalyst, a transformer in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader”. (Mike Green. Change Management Masterclass. 2007)

Successful change management projects do require realistic, but also optimistic individuals with a strong desire for achievement. Change management also requires a lot of dreaming, and daring. A change project must be managed skillfully, and if there is a strict budget, it is even more important to meet the financial target. However, how can the final financial gain be calculated if the project is successful in for example advancement of knowledge and learning, or even satisfaction index of employees? If the organization e.g. sets a goal to develop sales skills, the return on investment may be a lot better than first calculated. Therefore, e.g. employee development is a very important factor for organizational development. 

In short, before becoming a change agent and thus a catalyst for change, practice on your pitch and make sure to have responses to the following questions:  

– What kind of change do I want to initiate?

– What are the circumstances (i.e. am I acting as an informal/formal change agent, and in what kind of setting, e.g. as an entrepreneur, a consultant, an employee, a middle manager, a customer/client, a member of an organization, a citizen and so on)?

– Who do I need to involve in successfully driving the change initiative? 

– What is/are the goal/s? 

– What kinds of risks are involved (if any)?

– What kind of communication does this require, and how will I communicate successfully?