When you ask senior leaders to describe the key business challenges they are facing within their organizations, you tend to find the same few challenges repeated. These obstacles are often related to having the right talent, improving operational efficiency, spurring innovation, and driving growth.
Regardless of your place in the organizational hierarchy, these challenges (or variations) probably sound familiar. Why is it that these issues emerge year after year? What is at the root of an organization’s continual struggle to manage these challenges? One of the root causes is that they all require change — the need to move from an existing state to a new and different one. As it turns out, success in leading change is mixed and disappointing.
This probably isn’t a surprise. But why does it happen this way?
Imagine you’ve been asked to lead a major change in your organization. What would you do? What are the steps? What’s the secret to leading, navigating, or executing a successful change initiative?
We wanted to know more about what leaders do when leading change, which we refer to as Change-Capable Leadership. What follows isn’t a change-management model. Instead, we focus on what leaders do when a change is successful and what leaders do when a change is unsuccessful.
We asked 148 senior executive leaders about a change they successfully navigated in the past 12 to 18 months. They described the challenge they faced and what they believe contributed to the successful execution of that change. Their responses include the behaviors they displayed, the actions they took, and the mindsets they adopted.
We also asked a different group of 127 executives about a change with an unsuccessful outcome within the past 12 to 18 months. They too described the challenges they faced and the behaviors they displayed.
Together, those 275 senior executive leaders gave us tremendous insight as they talked about the most important factors for success, including what you should do more of, do less of, or avoid all together. Their experiences can help you bring change-capable leadership to your organization and provide an early warning system to avoid failure.

If you’re a leader facing complex business challenges in your organization that require changes in the way people have always done things, we offer these 3 primary insights about change-capable leadership based on feedback we received from almost 300 senior executives:

  • Change yourself. Leading change successfully means spending time outside of your comfort zone. As the individual leading an initiative, you must change your mindset, actions, and behaviors.
  • Don’t go it alone. Leading change is a team activity. People come together driven by a compelling — and frequently communicated — message about why things are changing.
  • Know the signs. Recognize the early warning signs that indicate an initiative is starting to derail.

These senior executives provided other insights as well. To read more about what they said, and our findings, download the white paper below. 

Download White Paper

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