Visual summary: Critical Change Skills
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Business-Critical Skills Of Successful Change Leaders

Companies that want to drive successful change need to invest in programmes and resources to strengthen change management capabilities within their leadership teams and the wider organization. From senior executive to change manager and everyone else involved in any stage of the change process, change management skills are vital for anyone who leads or manages change.

This article summarizes four of the key skills successful change leaders have in common.

Communications Skills 

When managing change, communication skills are your superpower. People will want to understand which changes are planned, the purpose of these changes, and what the impact will be on processes, people, and teams. The content of the communication, as well as the channel, frequency and tone of voice, needs to be tailored to the needs of the various audience and stakeholder groups.

Communication is more than just informing, it’s also about listening deeply and gathering data by being curious, asking the right questions and responding appropriately. In all this, the change leader will want to address people’s worries, be honest about potential challenges ahead, and reassure them that the transition will be worth the effort.

Coaching Capabilities

Whether it be in the context of significant transformation (e.g., mergers and acquisitions, worldwide expansion, downsizing) or changes at the team level (e.g., adopting new technology, team leadership transition), people understand and react to change differently because everyone has their own assumptions, expectations, and views.

Even while it is simple to embrace the idea of streamlining processes and increasing productivity, some individuals may become resistant to change if they believe it is something they are passively experiencing rather than actively influencing.

Coaching is an effective tool that can aid in exploring resistance, improving communication, and fostering resilience in the face of change for individuals, teams, and organizations.

Therefore, it is essential to maximizing employee potential, shifting mindset and behaviours, and ensuring the success of the change initiative.

Tolerance For Uncertainty 

Not everyone is receptive to change, and yet even senior leaders are often surprised by the resistance they encounter when trying to promote a fresh change initiative. Sometimes, even when the end goal is clear, the path there remains full of uncertainty and obstacles. How can you persuade people to follow you on that journey? This is where the skill of tolerance and resilience comes into play. The first is about the ability to tolerate open negativity or a passive lack of support without losing one’s own sense of purpose. 

The second, resilience, is about being able to stand up again and keep going despite all the setbacks that keep you, or the project from progressing. These characteristics require creativity, problem-solving and leadership skills, and are partly due to personality, experience and background, but you can also learn them through dedicated coaching and training.

Strategic Thinking 

A solid strategy is the foundation of any successful change management effort. However, bringing that strategy to life requires a change leader with two strategic perspectives. The first requires the project management skills to design, plan, and structure a clear roadmap to implement the change. A sound understanding of change management principles and methodologies should underpin this approach, which will help define and prioritize the steps required to move forward.

The second perspective is about aligning the organizational change programme with the big-picture view of the organization’s strategic direction. Monitoring both the high-level and ground-level view of change is a skill of dexterity, anticipation and the ability to anticipate challenges that may arise during the change process and devise a strategy for how to deal with them.


Change is not easy, but it is inevitable, as today’s businesses need to be able to adapt quickly to shifting developments, or else risk being left behind. This requires a leadership culture based on  strong change management and coaching skills.

Although acquiring change management skills seems like a daunting prospect, with an open mindset, personal commitment, and the right training, any manager can learn how to become an effective and inspiring change leader.  

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