Change Leadership: Definition, Benefits, Tips and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you manage a team of employees or lead any group of people, consider learning about change leadership. This type of leadership can help you make effective improvements to your business and build stronger relationships with your coworkers. By practicing change leadership, you can keep your business up to date, prepare for unexpected scenarios and learn about exciting new technologies. In this article, we explain what change leadership is, several benefits to this management style plus tips and skills for being a successful change leader.

What is change leadership?

Change leadership is a style of management that emphasizes the importance of improvement and adaptability in an organization. Change leaders excite stakeholders about the benefits that changes can have on a business. They also guide groups of people through changes in a productive manner, ensuring a company can make strategic, smart and successful adjustments to the way they operate. This type of leadership helps companies keep up with an ever-changing world by building resources, using new technologies and responding to crises.

Change leaders can be in charge of the implementing the following types of changes:

  • Digital platforms: In today's world, it is critical that a company has a digital platform so that they can provide online resources to their customer base. For example, since it is common for customers to order food online, a restaurant should have a website, online menu and takeout ordering system in order to be successful.

  • Social media: Since so many people use social media around the world, a company can use it as a tool to build their brand and expand their customer base. Companies can establish social media to reach customers in different cities, states and even countries.

  • Health crises response plans: A successful change leader has a response plan for health crises to ensure the health and safety of their team and customers. For example, during flu season, a company's management may need to implement more sick leave, safety protocols and allow employees to work from home.

  • Technology: Technology can enable a company to increase convenience for employees, improve productivity, track information, keep systems organized and decrease errors. A change leader finds helpful technological software or tools, trains employees on how to use them and pushes a business to use new technologies to reach their goals.

  • Natural disasters response plans: A change leader should have a plan for the changes a business needs to make in the event of a natural disaster, such as a storm or hurricane. The types of natural disasters a company should plan for can vary based on their region and climate. For example, a company located next to water may need to prepare for the possibility of flooding.

  • Training: Managers can use change leadership to guide their approaches for improving employee training methods. This includes developing training manuals and resources, preparing senior employees to train junior employees and budgeting time for training programs.

Read more: What Is Social Media Marketing?

What are the benefits of change leadership?

Implementing change leadership can make many positive impacts on your business and aid you in reaching your business goals. Here are some benefits of employing this leadership style:

Solve problems

If issues arise in a business, a manager can use change leadership to solve them. For example, if productivity is low, a change leader can revise the training process so that employees have all the tools to succeed in their roles.

Related: Effective Problem-Solving Steps in the Workplace

Build your brand

Executing changes such as developing new marketing strategies can build a business's brand and help a business fulfill their mission. For example, if a farm's mission is helping their customers maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating nutritious foods, they can develop their social media marketing to raise awareness about the nutritional content of their products.

Increase sales

Making certain changes can enable a business to increase sales. For example, if a business builds an e-commerce system on their website so they can sell products online, it will increase the accessibility of products for potential customers.

Read more: How To Increase Sales in a Small Business (With Tips)

Improve efficiency

Leaders can make changes to increase efficiency in their business. For example, an online software that tracks metrics can make employee performance reviews faster and easier for everyone involved.

Foster a positive work environment

Since one part of change leadership is optimism, this style can lead to a more positive work environment where everyone is more satisfied. A manager can show employees that they care about their welfare by being willing to improve their business and work methods.

Maintain inclusivity

Sometimes, change leadership is necessary to remove barriers to employee success. Change leaders can provide language support, health accommodations and time off for their employees to ensure their workplace is a place that feels welcoming for all employees, no matter their background or abilities.

Read more: How To Adapt To Change in the Workplace

Tips for being a successful change leader

Here are several things you can do to be a successful change leader:

  • Think about the big picture: Change leaders evaluate their business situation to think of changes that can help them meet their larger business goals. Leaders can trigger change by creating powerful visions of opportunities for improvement that excite employees and other stakeholders. They establish their definition of success and ensure to budget plenty of time for employees to get used to new adjustments.

  • Stick to a plan: After making goals, change leaders stick to plans by using calendars, timelines, storyboards and metrics to track progress. They also create systems to efficiently prioritize and complete tasks.

  • Delegate tasks: Change leaders make use of the talents and skills of the employees they are leading to help them make effective changes. These leaders are experts at putting trust in employees or coworkers so they can approach their responsibilities with confidence.

  • Celebrate small victories: Finding ways to celebrate minor accomplishments and offering positive, specific feedback for team members can motivate them to succeed. Celebrations can include snacks, friendly competitions, prizes and team-building activities.

  • Request feedback: Asking supervisors, coworkers, employees and even clients for feedback about your leadership performance can help you become a better change leader. Stakeholders can also suggest changes which they would like to see in the business.

  • Study your industry: Research other top businesses in your industry to see what changes they are making to optimize their operations. You can also study industry leaders to learn leadership skills. Make sure to stay up to date on advanced technologies and helpful products that can aid your business.

  • Practice compassion: Since change can be exciting, remember to be kind to yourself and others throughout the process. Support your team members by giving them any materials and tools they need to adapt to changes over time.

Related: How To Set Business Goals With Examples

Change leadership skills

Managers can use the following skills to practice successful change leadership:

Communication

Change leaders communicate with their teams, not only about what a change entails but also to explain why a company is making it. Explaining reasons for certain actions and connecting them with the business's mission can help employees understand the purpose and impact of their work. Change leaders can also explain the direct benefits a change will have for employees and other stakeholders to persuade them of its importance and value.

Collaboration

A change leader is responsible for guiding an entire group of people through the planning and implementation of changes. This means they should be experts at knowing how to work together with others and build teams. Change leaders engage employees in the decision-making process and encourage them to help each other.

Determination

Change leaders prepare themselves to meet and overcome obstacles to change. They approach difficulties with a positive attitude, a problem-solving mentality, confidence and persistence. They must spend time and effort on making changes, assist their employees with any confusion due to change and keep a larger business goal in mind to maintain motivation.

Positivity

Positivity is an important skill for a change leader to inspire employees, work in a team and achieve desired results. A positive, confident attitude can increase productivity and quality of products and services. If leaders hold a belief that the desired outcome will happen, such an outlook can motivate employees to try their best.

Related: 7 Tips for Thinking Positively at Work

Curiosity

A change leader is curious and always seeks to learn new information. They ask plenty of questions to learn the best way of working and they research and study guides from reputable sources. They also pay careful attention to any feedback they receive from supervisors, coworkers, employees and clients to ensure they are managing everyone's expectations and needs.

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