The 3Cs of Change Leadership

In Leadership

By Maura Fay Learning

Whether you’re executing a large organisational change or simply asking your team to ‘switch gears’, the fundamental capabilities or competencies for change leaders are the same. And while we could provide you with a menu of specific change leadership capabilities such as influencing, project management and resilience, we have decided to focus on what we believe are the most critical capabilities – the 3Cs.

  1. Communication
  2. Clarity
  3. Commitment


We all know how important it is to communicate effectively through change, both in terms of functional communication but also style. Despite all of this, so many leaders still miss the mark.

One way to ensure your change communication is clear, consistent and supportive is to use the following communicating change checklist.

How Will I:

  • Show how the change is advantageous over past practices?
  • Show how soon, and in what ways, the benefits of the change will be observable?
  • Make it clear what the change is not?
  • Show that the change is linked to the strategic direction of the organisation?
  • Get their help in putting the detail onto my change? What activities do I have planned that draw on their creativity?
  • Demonstrate that flexibility exists for changing the idea if it doesn’t work?
  • Encourage feedback?
  • Ensure that I’m open to all feedback? What could I do to capture possibly sensitive feedback?
  • Ensure that I make it clear I am not blind to the difficulty that the change brings?
  • Ensure that I’m keeping up communication momentum, which encourages, prods and guides people towards the change, without repetition that turns them off?
  • Coach others in spreading the communication across the team?
  • Enable those who the see the change as positive to deal with potential conflict (knowing that people might find these people an easier target than me)?

Managing the complexities of change and being able to see the forest and the trees is important for change leaders. This clarity of mindset when dealing with the different dualities that can exist can be the difference in the change outcome.


Urgency and Patience

Change leaders combine a sense of urgency to get moving with the patience it takes to gather the right stakeholders together, seek their input, look for the systemic problems that might run deep into the cultural fabric of the organisation, and address the root causes of the blockage rather than the surface factors.

Collective Leadership and Individual Accountability

Most leaders understand the concept of building a collective leadership capability, but few bring that perspective to work every day. Effective change leaders understand that collaboration is less a management technique than it is a leadership philosophy. It’s a belief characterised by statements such as: “when we commit to working together, we lay the foundation for winning together.” But these leaders also know that to win together, each individual must accept accountability for delivering excellence.

Developmental Coach and Relentless Performance Driver

Great coaches know that developing

expertise takes practice and time for the lessons learned to result in more-natural, repeatable behaviours. They take on the challenge knowing that positive change will often not come immediately, but they are there to lend a helping hand and guidance when needed. At the same time, leaders must be demanding by establishing

ambitious performance standards and holding both the team and individuals accountable.

Perpetual Student and Inspiring Teacher

Recent research finds that one indication of effective change leaders is their capacity to continuously gather important information on customers, competitors, their culture, and the external environment by asking high-quality questions. Yet, great change leaders also need to teach their organisations guiding principles or to use the purpose statement as a vehicle for building passion and commitment in employees.

Humble Servant and Bold Change Catalyst

When we’ve seen leaders tell their companies’ stories, they bring a sense of deep humility, service and stewardship to their roles. Ironically, that sense of service is often what motivates these leaders to be bold change catalysts when they feel that such action is warranted. They are not driving deep change to build their personal brands but to bring a sense of vitality to the people and companies they are honoured to serve.


Great change leaders have an unwavering determination and discipline to achieve better results through people. They share similar traits:

Commitment to a Better Way

Leaders believe that their organisation’s or team’s future depends on the successful execution of the change effort. They see the goal as worthwhile.

Courage to Challenge Power Bases and Norms

A courage developed in the face of opposition, failure, uncertainty and risk. By demonstrating an ability to rise again, they also build courage in those around them.

Initiative to Break Established Boundaries

Leaders take it upon themselves to work with others to solve unexpected problems, break bottlenecks, challenge the status quo, and think outside the box.

Motivation of Themselves and Others

Highly motivated themselves, these leaders create energy, excitement and momentum in the people around them and provide opportunities for others to follow their example and take personal responsibility for change.

Caring About How People are Treated

Leaders are fair-minded and intent on enabling others to succeed. They never deliberately manipulate or exploit people. They are determined to help each person achieve their full performance potential.

A Sense of Humour

Far from trivial, a sense of humour often gets leaders through when those around them have lost heart. It enables them to help others stay the course in the face of confusion, discouragement, and the occasional inevitable failure.

This blog is taken from our Leading Change eBook. Download your copy today.

New Call-to-action

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *