Change Management and Change Leadership: A Critical (and Neglected) Relationship

 We have previously published blogs that speak to leadership and management interests, exploring topics such as:
This blog seeks to supplement the content of the current management series by evaluating the concepts of Management and Leadership.  In order to evaluate these concepts in a useful way within a single blog, we will provide context by examining their application within the most challenging environment; a changing environment.
Management Vs. Leadership
Let’s begin with at the highest level, the critical differentiation between management and leadership:
Manager’s Role
Managing the current system; maintaining control, order, and predictability while minimizing risk.
Leader’s Role
Challenging the current system; envisioning new and improved systems and realities, creating a new order, and assessing the risks of change.
These roles differ substantially, but it’s important to note that they do not compete with or inhibit each other; they supplement and complement each other.
If either role is to be successfully executed, the other must also exist, and each must focus on their unique interests. 
Visionary leadership combined with effective management is the ideal working model, one we should promote within our own organizations.
Within the Context of Change Management at a High Level  


Change Management is a term we have all heard and regularly use.  Unfortunately, we seem to use it generically, lacking the level of precision that would clearly differentiate between Managing Change and Leading Change.
Let’s regroup and precisely define Change Management.
Change Management should be considered the programs, practices, and processes that were developed in order to control any attempt to move from a current state to a future state.
Full stop.
When change is underway, the most basic concern of the manger is the preservation of focus; minimizing distractions and controlling the impact of the change.  The tools and processes utilized by the change manager have been designed to:
  • Control the scope of the change
  •  Align the stakeholders understanding of the change
  • Predict and manage the logistical challenges that the implementation of change will present
Change leaders constantly and critically assess the current situation, creating a vision of a smarter and more effective future state.  This vision drives transformative change and provides the energy for the engine of the change process, launching it, and increasing its speed and efficiency.
Change leadership defines the goals and navigates, from a high level, the path to large scale transformation.
Change management uses the processes in place to control each piece of the change implementation plan.
The greatest risks posed by the inability to differentiate between these roles are:
  • Everyone managing and no one leading – This can result in a lack of vision and leadership, and either redundant layers of the organization managing the change process or confused change management that lacks a clear vision of the endpoint.
  •  Everyone trying to lead, and no one managing – This can result in contradictory visions, and a lack of control of the scope and execution of change.
In Greater Detail
Change Management
The act of managing change, although applied to non-routine situations, does involve using a defined set of skills and tools.  Some of the tools or components that are fundamental and common to change management processes include:
  • Readiness assessments:
    Tools used to assess the change from every angle:  organizational impact, resources required, timing considerations, material control, measurement techniques, areas impacted, predictable challenges, highest risk time points 
  • Definition of change implementation plan:
    Common tools include internal change management forms, Gantt charts, and project plans, clearly stating timelines, deliverables, roles, responsibilities, measurement points, acceptance criteria, and pointing to associated documents.
  • Communication planning, communication and resistance management:
    Often the most critical aspect of effective change management processes, as change often breeds anxiety.  In order to maximize morale and minimize resistance, communication must be clear, promoting the visibility of the change vision, a clear definition of the end point, success measurements, and expectations.  Communication must be level and time point appropriate and a manager must be aware of who is hearing the message, what that message should be, and when it should be delivered.
  • Training material development and training:
    The creation of a new future state will inevitably require the adaptation of current processes, which will require re-training the work force.  Prior to conducting the training, training materials that focus on the scope of the change must be designed.  Conducting the training and using the newly developed materials should always be conducted prior to going live with the change.
  • Measurement of change as implemented; data collection, analysis and feedback:
    Mechanisms already in place, and some that may be developed as needed, are used to measure the implementation as it occurs.  Depending on the type of change, these mechanisms could include commissioning, metrology, qualification and validation, analytical laboratory technologies, and/or product inspections.  As most of these programs already exist and have their own internal management structures, the role of the change manager is to know when to deploy them and how to coordinate their activities.
  • Measurement of long term effectiveness and definition of any needed corrective actions:
    The final mechanisms are those that are used to conduct surveillance of the impact of change after it has been fully implemented.  These mechanisms seek to confirm that the consequence of change meets expectations, and that any unintended consequences of change are recognized and mitigated, if they exist.

Change Leadership

While managing change is tool-based (using established processes and supplemented by widely recognized tools), leading change is principle- and behavior-based.  Planning, organizing, and controlling are at the heart of management, while defining, influencing, and inspiring are at the heart of leading.
In the context of change, leaders deal with teams that, while not fully self-managing, have a very high degree of decision-making latitude.  In this capacity, leadership skills must be applicable to dealing with relatively autonomous teams, engaged in complex tasks under non-routine conditions.
In these situations, leaders must be able to effectively:
  • Innovate and create comprehensive targets
  • Set direction, and establish and communicate vision
  • Gain commitment
  • Create alignment
  • Overcome inertia and resistance to change
In a role that is shaped predominately by the need to create new realities, where established programs and tools are not of use, leaders must possess or quickly develop critical strengths that will enable them to effectively achieve these goals.
Whether vertical or shared leadership models are in place, the most necessary strengths fall into the following categories:
  • Core Attributes:
    Integrity/honesty, confidence, influence, emotional intelligence, approachability/good humor
  • Cognitive Attributes and Skills:
    Strategic and divergent thinking, visionary, goal setting, decision making, innovation, creativity
  •  Functional Skills and Experience:
    Technical exposure or expertise, problem solving, operational and analytical awareness
  •  Interpersonal Skills;
    Communication, diversity consciousness, conflict management, coaching, mentoring
  • Business Attributes and Experience;
                Political savvy, customer focus, market awareness


 With the correct mixture of experience, skills and attributes, a leader can:
Leadership, or the absence of leadership, has a dramatic effect on every organization.  Effective leadership sets the primary value system for, and maximizes the potential energy of, the entire organization.
The Critical Relationship
Whether we are managers or leaders, or managers in training to be leaders, there are many complex challenges that will require a healthy relationship between the leadership and the managerial levels of the organization.  Complex challenges that face our modern environments include those that are of a technical nature and are within the expertise of the organization, those that will require us to adapt to new processes and perspectives found outside current knowledge and resources, and challenges presented by critical situations that result from unexpected events requiring an immediate response.
Some challenges will be resolved quickly; others may begin with a technical challenge that may then trigger a related adaptive and/or critical challenge.  No matter the type of challenge we may encounter, real-time problem solving is in itself the creation of a new reality, developed dynamically along the path to another new reality.  Assessing these situations and developing timely, effective, and efficient solutions will require integration of leadership and management.
In order to integrate during challenging times, the foundation of the cooperative relationship must exist at all times.
For instance:
Resolving a technical challenge may never need to go beyond the managerial level.  An assessment of the situation may result in tactical maneuver, such as a redistribution of resources or a shift in priority.
But when faced with a systemic challenge with no clear solution, assessment may result in the recognition of the need to quickly develop a strategy for creating new processes/systems/skills (adaptive) as opposed to a redistribution of them, or a drastic change in overall strategy/direction of the target or end point (critical).  If the bridge between management and leadership is not intact and well understood when what looked like a technical challenge turns out to be an adaptive or critical challenge, the probability of resolving it quickly and effectively is greatly diminished.
As we know from all of our common experience, most organizations understand and practice change management.  As we have also unfortunately seen, change leadership is less widely practiced.  However, the economic times we all now live and work within ensure that:
  • Innovation is critically important to success
  • Windows of opportunity come less often, and close quickly
  •             Challenges are more complex, and the time available to overcome them is shorter
Given these realities, it is clear that we have to move faster and achieve more with less, while we continually reinvent ourselves, our working environments, and our processes.  Change leadership may not be as widely practiced as change management currently is, but the biggest change we will see in our industrial futures is how we organizationally approach change.
Dynamic leadership, coupled with effective management, is the path to survival.
We believe that if organizations learn it and live it, they can do better than survive.
They can thrive.
“Yesterday’s idea of the boss, who became the boss because he or she knew more than the person working for them, is yesterday’s manager.  Tomorrow’s person leads through a vision, a shared set of values, a shared objective.”
 Jack Welch
© Coda Corp USA 2011.  All rights reserved.
Gina Guido-Redden
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