Change leaders change adversity into advantage

Change leaders change adversity into advantage

A leader should value his people more, rather than valuing himself. As John Maxwell, in his book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect” has written, “When we learn to turn our focus from ourselves to others, the whole world opens up to us.”

For few people, leadership may be motivation, for some it may be an inspiration. Some people might accept others as leaders only if the leader has made some concrete contribution which has brought in a significant change. But there are certain common elements of leadership, on which all of us agree upon. A leader should not only have a vision, creativity and empathy but also should be motivating, supportive, a team leader, a risk taker and open to ideas. In other words, leadership can be defined as the attitude assumed by those looking for something different than the routine. Leaders are committed not only towards achievement of the goal but also they manage to transmit their enthusiasm and optimism to others, to help them to reach a common goal.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Each one of us believes that future is unpredictable and it holds numerous changes- not only in our lives but our day to day activities and routines. When we start our day, we do not exactly know, as for how it is going to be-Its highly unpredictable. Some days may bring in some learning; some may bring in opportunities, some may bring in risk or may be something which we have not expected at all. Every day, every event brings in a lot of learning with itself and is unique in its way. These learnings either can make an individual more vulnerable to change or he might dissipate. The ones who dissipate, are those who cannot handle change. On the other hand, those who CHANGES a CHANGE, emerge as Change leaders.

Change Leadership Definition “Change … requires creating a new system, which in turn always demands leadership (Kotter, 1995).”

“The change leader learns from other leaders, models the vision, and encourages others to commit to and champion the vision. The change leader inspires others into new ways of thinking and doing business. The change leader routinely energizes the change process and removes barriers to change.” British Columbia Public Service website

Change leadership is the ability to influence and enthuse others through personal advocacy, vision and drive, and to access resources to build a solid platform for change (Higgs and Rowland, 2000). Leadership is often viewed as key to successful change (American Management Association, 1994).

Change leaders create and disseminate a vision and overcome the resistance to change. The most critical aspect of major change lies in changing the people system—the skills and behavior of hundreds of employees down the line. While most good managers try to keep things under control, real change leaders are determined to shake things up.

Change leaders share five characteristics: moral purpose, an understanding of the change process, the ability to improve relationships, a desire to create and share knowledge throughout the organization, and the ability to generate coherent reform.

How a Change leader is different from a leader

Change leaders act as a linchpin between the strategic intent of management and the real time market feedbacks from the industry and workforce. They focus on real first-hand information and regularly are in discussion with the customers They keep themselves updated with the recent trends & information required for the competitive advantage. And they use this intelligence to energize the people who work around them.

The concept has been used in the industry and organisations to bring in successful and sustainable organizational improvements. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, General Electric has transformed its electrical motors business from zero percent returns to nearly 25 percent ROI by using almost daily doses of market reality to enhance employee innovation and productivity. Change leaders at GE Motors employ such techniques as customer visits, competitor product analysis, and a simple idea borrowed from Wal-Mart, “quick market intelligence.”

Mobil had undergone a downsizing spiral in US production and exploration. After three rounds of headcount reductions, it was virtually impossible to motivate workers. Then a small group of change leaders developed a compelling imperative: “Become the one the others copy.” Its impact was dramatic. Mobils operating performance soared, taking it from near the bottom of its peer group to first in less than three years.

Change leaders not only focus primarily on the people they are directly responsible for, but they create ripples around them , i.e. they also influence executives at higher levels and work in concert with other managers and peers.

Texas Commerce Bank (TCB) embarked on a massive redesign of almost all its processes, top management wanted the focus to be a meaningful number—a $50 million cost reduction. TCBs change effort continues to be led by a unique partnership between CEO Marc Shapiro and dozens of change leaders where they have learned how to overcome rigid vertical hierarchies, work informal networks, and form teams and groups that energize people to find solutions to the problems that encumber their performance.

Change leaders do not apply regular “off the shelf” approaches. They look for what will work in the current situation in hand with the available resources. They keep redesigning, recreating approaches using their past experiences, techniques and learning from others.

At AT&T, Mary Livingston, the regional VP for Greater New York City area, headed a team of 30 change leaders in a two-year effort that transformed the skills, behavior, and performance of a 10,000-strong salesforce. In the process, she used dozens of mobilizing and focusing approaches, from structured performance improvement processes, to targeted skill-building programs, to reengineering.


In short, the concept of change leaders has nothing to do with the hierarchy or position of anyone in the company; it has nothing to do with imposing views but with listening to those who know. Change Leadership is the attitude assumed by those looking for something different, who are committed to achieving a goal and whose conviction they manage to transmit to others through enthusiasm and optimism to reach a common goal. The change leader skill sets come into play at all levels of change leadership. Change becomes easier when you see it not as a mountain that seems too high, but as a gentle slope. In the journey of life, each step takes you gradually closer to achieving your goals.

-by Dr. Sanchita Banerjee