Coaching Leaders in Change Management

It’s crucial to understand that where coaching leaders in change management is concerned there is no one single methodology that fits all organisations.  I get very frustrated when I learn of certain companies attempting to sell a “one glove fits all” solution.

When I am coaching leaders in change management there are certain key areas that I feel are very crucial in the process of dealing with transition or change management scenarios.


  1. Address the “human side

This is crucial because any significant change or transformation creates “people issues” that are so often ignored.  It is only natural that some employees will feel uncertain and resist the change and these cannot be handled in a reactive way.  A formal approach needs to be developed early by all the stakeholders and leaders.  The circular process of aligning, committing to change and reassessing will move through the organisation and needs to be fluid and adaptable.

2.  Start at the Top

When change occurs within an organisation all eyes will turn to the CEO and the leadership team for guidance, support and strength.  First and foremost the leaders must fully embrace the change in order to be able to motivate downwards.  The leaders must speak with one voice and carry the same message.  This model needs to be carried throughout the organisation.  Furthermore, keep in mind the executive team is made up of individuals who are also going to be feeling the stress and will also be in need of support.

  1. Involve every Layer.

Responsibility for the design and implementation of the transformation process must cross every layer of management.  Leaders at every level need to be identified and aligned with the company’s new vision and path.

  1. Create “real Ownership

I find that individuals are more likely to take ownership naturally if they have been part of the identifying problems and crafting solutions process.  Leaders who attempt to get mere “buy-in” of their idea usually find that the direction of change is often short lived.

  1. Communicate Clearly

Do not make assumptions that others understand you.  Core messages need to be reinforced and feedback encouraged.  Just because you can see the new direction and understand the issues clearly, does not mean everyone else can to.

  1. Know your Cultural Landscape

Don’t underestimate the power of a company’s culture and behaviours at each level.  It is crucial to understand that all companies have a cultural centre, the locus of thought, activity, influence, or personal identification.  Cultural diagnostics identify the core values, beliefs, behaviours and perceptions that must be taken into account for successful change to occur.

  1. Prepare for the Unexpected

It is impossible to plan for every element of change and no change program will go completely according to plan.  The change model needs to be adaptable and flexible. Individuals will react unexpectedly, external factors will shift, resistance will be felt.  In order to be effective in managing change, continual reassessment of the impact of the change needs to be done and the impact on the organisation measured.

8.  Speak to the Individuals

Change is both institutional and personal. Honesty, transparency and trust are key to a successful change program.  Leaders need to be approachable and as explicit as possible. Time frames need to be set, be realistic and clear. Going through a process of change can be stressful and leaders can often get stuck with their head in the figures and spread sheets, plans and processes.  Sometimes the hard stuff is dealing with the more critical human emotional issues.


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence – it is to act with yesterday’s logic” – Peter Drucker

The Coach