An Essential Competency for Every Leader


Managing Change is the demonstration of support for innovation and for organizational changes needed to improve the organization’s effectiveness; supporting, initiating, sponsoring, and implementing organizational change; and helping others to successfully manage organizational change.

Leadership Development: What Managers & Leaders Do to Successfully Manage Change:

  1. Works cooperatively with others to produce innovative solutions
  2. Takes the lead or supports the setting new business directions, partnerships, policies or procedures
  3. Seizes opportunities to influence the future direction of an organizational unit or the overall business
  4. Helps people to develop a clear understanding of what they will need to do differently, as a result of changes in the organization
  5. Sponsors, implements or supports various change management activities (e.g., communications, education, team development. coaching)
  6. Establishes or supports structures and processes to plan and manage the orderly implementation of change
  7. Helps individuals and groups manage the anxiety associated with significant change
  8. Facilitates groups or teams through the problem solving and creative thinking processes leading to the development and implementation of new approaches, systems, structures and methods


Managing change means identifying what an organizational unit needs to do differently in the future and developing and implementing plans for change. This competency is important because most organizations need significant, ongoing change – in structure, work processes, procedures, and styles of management. To remain competitive, organizations need many people with the drive and skill to identify and implement these changes.

Without this competency, organizations will either fail to implement changes or implement them poorly, with loss of productivity and employee morale.


Part of what is needed to develop this competency is a new attitude about your role: an attitude that emphasizes taking initiative, demonstrating a sense of urgency, persisting in the face of resistance, and refusing to accept the status quo.

In addition to a change in attitude, managing change also requires developing some knowledge and skill in the processes and tools of organizational change. The best way to acquire this knowledge and skill is by participating in an organizational change or leadership development process led by a skilled leader or consultant. If possible, ask an internal or external consultant to guide your team through the process of change and to teach some of the techniques and tools.

Since this is not always possible, you may need to use other methods. You may be able to take a course on change management offered by an internal or external consultant. You can learn some of the tools for change by reading some of the references in this section. You can also learn by doing: planning and implementing a change, reflecting on what has worked effectively and less effectively, and planning next steps accordingly.

This competency builds on many other competencies, such as Fostering Teamwork, Empowering Others, Establishing Focus, Providing Motivating Support, Interpersonal Awareness, Influencing Others, and Persuasive Communication. If you are also working on one of these competencies, you will learn techniques that can be applied in Fostering Innovation.


  • Organize a team to identify new directions or procedures for your unit.
  • Volunteer to serve on a team charting change for a larger part of the organization than your unit.
  • Organize a meeting of the people in your unit to discuss and clarify what they will need to do differently, as a result of changes in the organization.
  • Try out a team problem solving or decision making process that you have read or heard about with a team on which you are a member.


Each time you try out a new change management process (e.g., for planning, team decision making, team problem solving) hold a session with the team to discuss what went well and what could be done differently and better in the future.


Volunteer to serve on a cross-functional team charged with implementing change. Observe what the team leader does and keep of list of ideas to apply in your own unit.

Interview someone who has successfully led an organizational unit through change. Consider people outside of your own organization, as well as people within it. Ask the person to walk you through the process he/she led. Find out how the person approached this situation and what he/she specifically did. Ask about problems that were encountered and how they were addressed.


If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop this competency, you can:

  • Assign the person to work on a team headed by a consultant or internal leader who is skilled in change management.
  • Help the person develop a plan for working with his/her unit to implement change. Think through the resources and support this person will need. Try to anticipate and develop contingency plans for problems that may be encountered.
  • Make yourself available on a regular basis to discuss how the change management efforts are progressing.


By March 15, I will hold a meeting with the staff in my unit, to review the overall direction of the division and identify what our unit needs to do differently to implement this direction and to develop a plan for change.

By April 10, I will identify a new group problem solving method and try it out in my unit.

By May 1, I will read Corporate Transformation, by Kilmann and Covin and develop a list of ideas to try out in my unit.



ADKAR – A Model for Change in Business, Government and Our Community, by Jeffrey Hiatt. Prosci. 2006.

A Sense of Urgency, by John P. Kotter. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press, 2008.

Beyond the Quick Fix: Managing Five Tracks to Organizational Success, by Ralph H. Kilmann. 320 pages. Beard Books, 2004.

Generating Change: Anytime, Anywhere, by Anybody, by Doug Walton. 314 pages. Rooster Press. 2018.

Leading Change, by John Kotter. 208 pages. Harvard Business Review Press. 2012.

Making Change Stick: Twelve Principles for Transforming Organizations, by Richard C. Reale. 176 pages. Park Ridge, NJ: Positive Impact Associates, Inc., 2005.

Managing Organizational Change, 2nd Edition, by Bill Leban. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007.

Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach, 2nd Edition by Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, &Gib Akin. 432 pages. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2008.

Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change 4th edition, by William Bridges. 208 pages. Nicholas Brealey Publishing. 2017.

Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution, by Michael Hammer & James Champy. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2006.

Re-energizing the Corporation: How Leaders Make Change Happen,
by Jonas Ridderstrale and Mark Wilcox. 220 pages. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

The Leadership Challenge, 6th Edition, by J. M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner. 400 pages. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Glidwell. 288 pages. Little, Brown. 2000.

Understanding Organizational Change: The Contemporary Experience of People at Work, by Patrick M B Dawson. 224 pages. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.


Leading Disruptive Change and Innovation: Your Plan for Breakthrough Growth. Two days. American Management Association. Tel. 877 566-9441.

Leading People Through Change Program. 1.5 Days. Blanchard Companies. Tel. 800-728-6000.

Virtual Change Management Certification Program. Three days. Prosci.

Directory of 92 public, onsite, and online workshops on change management.

LinkedIn Learning – 733 videos and courses

Change Leadership. Three approaches from the Center for Creative Leadership.


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