Importance of Senior Leaders During Change


Ron Ashkenas wrote a fine post titled You Can’t Delegate Change Management for Bloomberg on the importance of senior leaders during organizational change. It’s worth reading. I don’t agree with his title, since I have seen leaders delegate well. But, I certainly agree with the spirit of the article – and the story he uses is clear and concise.

Here is my response:

Ron – Fine article, thanks. I love the example. I’ve seen those things play out with the similar results.

Last year, I was part of a number of planning meeting with lots of clients, and I noticed something. When the most senior leader was present and actively engaged, the quality of the meeting was significantly better. I got interested in what might be unique about what the senior leader brings to the table. So, I conducted a study.Two areas stand out with regard to your point:

One is that leaders of successful changes tended to visibly demonstrate their support for the change from beginning to end. Some did delegate, but that was never seen as them abandoning the project. Obviously, a big difference between that and the leader you write about who continually sent signals that he wasn’t engaged.

Another key thing stood out. The leaders of successful change trusted the people they delegated to. And those lower-level leaders never seemed to feel abandoned or left on their own “to work it out.” They knew their leader had their backs.

If you’re interested in the short report, here is a link:



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