Leadership Change Management Process


A change management process follows a series of activities in order to meet expected outcomes or provide a complete transformation of an organization. Leaders not willing to follow a change management process end up in wasting valuable resources because of working towards one purpose one day and another the next, resulting in disengaged employees, and slowly losing trust with people they should be providing leadership for.

Workers mostly expect guidance from their leaders but when they instead sense chaos in leadership behavior the key ingredient of trust wanes. However, when the leadership team becomes truly confident and committed to practicing the required change management competencies, the unification passes through into trust to follow a journey.


The 5C’s are broken into two parts, Strength and Leadership competencies. The strength needed to face unexpected barriers and the strength needed to continue the practice and hence development of the required leadership competencies needed for change management.

The 5C’s are interrelated, improving Collaboration for example will improve Communication, reaffirm personal Confidence, and remind people of why they are Committed to the journey. Completing each step in the 5C process is required to achieve the expected change, glossing over or skipping a step will lead to failure. For example, organizations might not take the time to seek everyone’s personal Commitment, key in sustaining the effort and in facing setbacks along the journey. Then at the first sign of change failure leaders revert back to the methods used in the past.

The first two, Confidence and Commitment, start the change management process and are the seminal activities in gaining strength. Achievement of Confidence can come from leadership team activities that demonstrate different but related viewpoints, activities that present successful paradigms from outside of internal models, and an assessment of weaknesses and strengths related to what was observed.

Once there is Confidence to go forward there must then be a Commitment from each and every leader. There are many times leaders have listened to a new idea or direction they were Confident about but have then not taken the necessary actions to accept by practice. Commitment is required immediately after gaining Confidence. Commitment adds to Confidence and Confidence facilitates the leader’s need to Commit.

Let’s provide some of the 5C’s details:

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” – Henry Ford


For change to happen leaders must first understand the why. Why are the reasons the organization is embarking on change? How will the change improve on customer values? How will this change improve the day to day work tasks for the employees? Answering these two questions will provide the needed answers in gaining confidence to start the journey of change. When leaders are able to easily look ahead and visualize how two important factors, customer value and employee satisfaction, will be improved they gain confidence in tackling the future journey of change. Next comes an assessment of the organizations weaknesses and strengths and then feeling comfortable about acting on them. With consensus of sound plans of action the leadership team will gain more confidence.

One of the best methods to gain confidence is to “go and see” successful organizations who are on a similar journey with a successful history. In the 1980’s, Norman Bodek, a teacher, consultant, author and publisher was one of the pioneers to bring American business leaders over to Japan to study successful Japanese management practices. These studies resulted in the adoption and implementation of “best practices,” resulting in change and subsequent improvements within American organizations.

Leaders with confidence inspire others and make things happen. Research shows that people unconsciously defer to people who project an air of confidence. At Harvard University an experiment by Chabris and Simon involved groups of people working together to solve a math problem.  The result, instead of deferring to the person with the greatest math knowledge, the group deferred to the most confident person, regardless of that person’s knowledge.


However, confidence is not the same as being committed. You can be extremely confident about achieving an educational degree but without commitment you will not make the required changes within the current process of living your life. Have you ever experienced, of what was seemingly a confident leadership team wanting change and then chaos ensued? Within a short time of executing a strategy, there was a flatline and even decline of change measures? This is the result of not having everyone on the leadership team committed to the strategy. Resulting flatlines are extremely costly and momentum killers. Just because everyone agreed to it does not mean they committed to it.

Commitment is confirmed and recognized when leaders are communicating, to their peers, to their direct reports, and to their leaders the why and how they are committed. Leaders are now talking about the personal changes they understand are required to support the needed change.They establish the required Leaders Standard Work, changes in priority, necessary in their daily routines to achieve the goals. These are the outputs of commitment so start to work on the required inputs which starts with building confidence.

The result of commitment is personal change. The leadership team must identify which leadership characteristics and behaviors are required for the intended organizational change. Characteristics such as empathy, listening, persuasion, and commitment to the development of people. These required characteristics must be well defined and the how to acquire, clearly outlined. This understanding enables leaders to confirm their commitment.

But Leaders must have the needed competence. Creating leadership confidence to provide the needed change is not enough, without competence to get the job done leadership confidence will start to fade when facing a few failures.  In this article from Psychology Solution they outline four steps of building the competence confident people need to handle failure if it happens,  Four Steps in Building Competence. It is about identifying first and then practicing the required skills enabling the ability to overcome setbacks and even avoid them.  The next three C’s are the required leadership competencies of change.


This competence starts the momentum of change with the stakeholders. The identified stakeholders must also clearly understand the why and the how of the change and the “what’s in it for me.”

There are various communication methods applied during the course of doing business, oral communication, written communication in the form of presentations and email, and communication while collaborating with others. The latter is the most effective, why?

Over the years there has been many processes depicting how communication takes place. One of the most popular being; Source>Encoding>Channel>Decoding>Receiver. Source must be clear about the why, Encoding is transforming the message into understandable terms for the type of receiver. Channel is the method of communication, going to Gemba! Decoding will be made easier if the Encoding step was completed with the Receiver in mind. Receiver are the people who must understand the message of change and each group will have various paradigms and listening skills, the leaders as communicators, must consider and ensure the Encoding and Channel have been well planned for the types of intended Receivers.

The Channel is the most important consideration in effective communication and as mentioned the most effective Channel is going to the Gemba, several times a day. By using this method as the Channel and going to Gemba with the purpose of understanding of how effective the message was received by the Receivers leaders will see, the effectiveness of their communication. The leader can also experience how the message was received and the impact it might be having. This provides the leader with an opportunity to further communicate, promote, and get people on board with the why.


Collaboration, when it comes to change, is a competence compulsory in creating a cooperative arrangement with all of the stakeholders being affected by both the inputs and outputs of the change process. The inputs being what are the new methods, technology, and resources essential for the change. The outputs being the transformation of these inputs into value add for customers and employees.

Collaboration is part of change continuous improvement, it brings ideas to fruit and practice. Innovation for example is not about a single leader following a process of coming up with an idea, designing a possible solution, implementing it, and sitting back and collecting the rewards. In practice this is rarely how it happens. Innovation is about a diverse team of people where one of the team members starts with a shell of an idea and through collaboration, makes it real and worth something to society. Realize the telegraph was invented by not only Morse, but also Charles Wheatstone, Sir William Fothergill Cooke, Edward Davy, and Carl August von Steinhiel so near to each other that the British Supreme Court refused to issue one patent.

Collaboration, at the tactical level, is where momentum continues to build. Leaders working in the Gemba with the stakeholders, are applying the methods of Gemba STP, Supporting, Teaching, and Promoting within the Gemba. This application is built into each Leaders Standard Work so that it will almost naturally shape Collaboration with the people who are doing the value add work. Working together brings buy in.


Celebrations should be looked at as building blocks for momentum, building while collaborating with the stakeholders. The blocks can be broken down into the following:

  • Motivation
  • Team building
  • Embolden (reassurance of change acceptance)

When you have a series of small victories, the boost in people’s confidence can last for months. Too many leaders will wait until a project is complete or a target is met. The momentum killer here is time, the time it takes to reach these ending events.

Celebrations at the time of a small change, before an ending event, reassures people their attempts at change in routine work is very much appreciated. For example, a long-time practice might be to sample work for quality after so many units produced (units produced could be invoices, maintenance repairs, sales calls, etc., not only widgets). The required change to meet a certain quality input might be to record a key input factor on a run chart with control limits and make adjustments if an out of control condition appears, no need to take samples, right the first time through! If the leader during their Gemba walks is observing a consistent practice of recording key input factors then they should plan a small celebration. This is especially effective for the one or two people that were not practicing the required change but have now bought in.

Leaders can also empower others to perform celebrations. Leaders go to Gemba several times a day but people working in the value stream are there with peers, every minute, on the expected value add tasks. They see the expected change in their peers before any leader might. You can think of them as the first responders in encouraging change. Celebrations by peers are embolden for people who struggle with change.

In summary 5C – A Leadership Guide for Change is a simple yet effective change management process to follow. The first two C’s build the required strength to face the expected challenges along the journey and the remaining three C’s are the required leadership competencies in creating change momentum towards meeting the expected targets.

Lean Teams USA

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