What’s the Difference Between Change Management and Change Leadership (And Why Does it Matter)?

Beth Miller |

Change Leadership

In order for a leader to be able to both manage change in the workplace and lead their teams through that change, that person must be both a strong manager and a strong leader. However, not all leaders are great managers, and not all managers are great leaders. Should one person shoulder both the vision and the process of change? Or can different people effectively implement change leadership and change management?

Change Managers: Focused on Process

There are some people who are very highly management-oriented. When it comes to change, they apply those principles to their team. They are able to step their employees through the process of change, orienting them to new systems, ensuring they have the proper training in place, measuring their progress, and paying close attention to deployment deadlines. These change managers are highly efficient in these tasks, but whether or not they can lead through change depends on one thing: the ability to inspire those individuals to do more.

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Change Leaders: Focused on Inspiration

Conversely, there are leaders who inspire passion in their employees and they motivate their teams to do their best work. When faced with organizational change, these leaders are able to communicate the vision of the company, and they motivate the workforce to adapt to change through that vision. They help guide the overarching goals of the change, and ensure that everyone understands and buys in to that common goal.

Are Change Management and Change Leadership the Same?

There are individuals out there who are adept at both change management and change leadership. They are able to balance the vision of change with the process of implementing that change. However, not all change managers make great change leaders, and vice versa.

In many cases, it makes sense to separate these two functions, while at the same time taking a team approach and working toward a common goal. The best way to do that is to start from the top down. It is the role of the executive team to set the vision of the change and inspire passion in the workforce. When it comes time to implement organizational change, those leaders pay close attention to their managers, inspiring passion for change. That inspiration will help those managers lead their own teams through the process of change.

Knowing how to manage and lead through change isn’t always easy. Some companies may choose to work with a third party to help them navigate the waters, especially when change involves a large-scale system implementation. Getting an outside, objective perspective can help keep everyone focused on the task at hand.

Good change management is about engaging people in the process of change so that everyone is working collectively on a common goal. With the right approach to change management and change leadership, the company can ensure that employees remain inspired to change as they are managed through each step of the process.

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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