Change Management Christopher SmithAugust 20, 2018

Change Management Vs. Change Leadership: What Are The Differences?

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Change Management Vs. Change Leadership: What Are The Differences?

Change Management Vs. Change Leadership

Change management and change leadership are two rising phenomena which have transformed business processes.

Their rise to prominence has been essential for helping organizations evolve in constantly shifting digital environments.

Change has a negative perception, and the need to manage change suggests companies need to react to it on a regular basis.

This is met with resistance by staff who settle into a sense of security.

Change leadership is often lumped in with change management, and though they are interlinked, the concepts are not interchangeable.

Before we get into the crux of change management Vs. change leadership, let’s take a look at some outline definitions:

Change Management: The set of basic tools and structures to keep change efforts under control

Change Leadership: The ability to harness the power of people, visions, and processes responsible for large-scale, sustainable transformation.

Change Management

Change management is vital, but must be driven by change leaders to be effective. Change management usually concerns small changes that contribute to a larger picture.

Change leadership on the other hand will direct organizations to new destinations, mobilizing resources which facilitate change. This puts an engine on the whole process, inspiring stakeholders to embrace change.

Change management is more commonly spoken about because it revolves around minimizing mistakes, reducing the barriers that can block the progression of change.

It’s very much based on pushing things along, while ensuring things are kept under control. Usually, change leaders are assigned to oversee the process and ensure it runs in an orderly way.

Change Leadership

Change leadership is an engine. It concerns the people who want to make things happen, and is based on the sense of urgency which drives growth.

It’s about big visions, and how you can empower your team to realize those visions. There is greater scope for disorderliness, with less control over outcomes.

Everything won’t happen when your leader wants it too, but what’s most important is you have a skilled leader you can rely on.

Though most can perform change management, change leadership requires a unique skillset.

It is associated with bigger leaps, bigger hazards, and bigger bullets. It is anticipated to be a big challenge of the future, especially since organizational failure has proven nobody is particularly good at.

To avoid being one of many failed subjects, here are eight change leadership steps which will engage and empower members of your organization:


Sometimes it isn’t who strikes the loudest, it’s who strikes first. Though this might defy common logic, there’s always someone who will beat you to the post. This inspires a sense of urgency, because your technology and competition won’t wait for you.

Once something becomes available, people pounce, meaning it’s important to be an innovator rather than get left behind. Persistence will help you lead and make changes possible, where it’s best to be one step ahead of the game.


With a clear vision, you can accelerate the change process. If everyone clearly understands your expectations, they can work in accordance with your goals.

Staff are more likely to embrace change if they understand the reasons behind it, and if they feel as if they’ve made valuable contributions. That’s why it’s advantageous to actively involve staff throughout the different stages of change.


Critical members of staff must be united towards a common goal. With organization-wide sponsorship, your staff will be emotionally committed to change.

Your coalition should never fail to neglect the importance of frontline staff, who are often the key drivers of change. Together, you can conquer the challenges change throws your way, but individually these can be difficult to overcome.


Once you’ve established a vision and united staff, you must master the art of communicating your vision. Create a constant dialogue to clarify points of importance, and make sure you show your indications to key stakeholders.

A vision for change is one thing, but if staff aren’t aware of your goals, it’s difficult for them to work in line with your change initiatives.

Poor communication can breed resentment, where staff are left feeling unimportant. If you’re vague about your instructions, confusion can spread through the organization. Communicate early and often to help with the implementation of progressive change.

Quick Wins

To ensure change becomes embedded in organizational culture, you must celebrate early wins.

This will keep staff motivated, with an appreciation they’re heading in the right direction.

Incentivize staff with a rewards based system to reinforce positive behavior. If staff know they’re doing something right, they’ll feel reassurance to duplicate wins.


The end goal is to get to change to stick. If it becomes part of your organization’s core values, your change leadership has been successful.

This can only be achieved if leaders stay on top of the efforts outlined above, with staff regularly observing the benefits of change.

Leaders should inspire staff so change is institutionalized, and this way it will be embraced as part of the fabrics of your organization.

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