Change Leadership: Traits to Model the New Way

Updated: Apr 3

"Modelling the new way is the one key task leaders of change do not need props for, nor should they delegate this to others"

Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” This is also very true in organisational change. Leaders need to model the new way, especially the new skills and behaviours. Just as a model can inspire us to dress or look a certain way, a leader of change can inspire their employees to imitate their good behaviour. The leaders of the organisation have to be someone the employees look up to and want to emulate during change implementation. Employees will listen to what leaders say and do. They will always be looking for alignment or gaps. If there is alignment, employees will gravitate towards the leader and copy their behaviour.

Modelling the new way is one of the key tasks leaders of change do not need props for, nor can they delegate this task to others. There are three key traits required for modelling the new way:

Change Leadership Capability

Lead with Integrity


Peter F Gallagher, Change Management, Change Management Communication, Change Leadership Alignment, Change Management Speakers, Change Management Experts, Change Management Thought Leaders, Change Management Influencer, Change Management Keynote Speaker, Leadership of Change, Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK),

Change Leadership Capability: The skills required for leading day-to-day operations are very different to leading change. Organisations invest huge amounts of capital on a change, transformation or improvement initiative and then ask their leaders to lead the implementation without providing any change capability. Change Leadership Capability includes:

  • Change Leadership Alignment: The change leadership alignment process is fundamental for leaders to model the new way. This process creates the leader’s change vision, aligns them on their strategic objectives and develops a high performing team, as well as change skills and knowledge.

  • Change Knowledge: Change management knowledge is information acquired through sensory input, such as reading, watching, listening, etc.

  • Change Skills: Change management skills refers to the ability to apply change management knowledge during change implementation. It is best to practice the application of any newfound skills, and change management is no different.

Lead with Integrity: One of the most important characteristics of any leader is integrity. This becomes even more critical when leading change. As a leader of change, you are leading the organisation and its employees on a change journey. The Leadership of Change® requires integrity and honesty, and the leader should have both morals and credibility. Leading with integrity includes:

  • Honesty:Leader honesty is one of the key pillars of positive employee relationships and successful change. Organisational change often means making changes that can be described as unpleasant, at the very least.

  • Moral Leadership: There is much research to indicate that organisational leaders who value morality outperform their unethical peers. While most employees believe moral leadership delivers better business results and more successful change, few believe that leaders demonstrate these qualities consistently.

  • Credibility: Credibility is about trust, respect and being believable, and this is especially important for leaders of change. Credibility is evident when the employees believe what their leaders say and do.

Benevolence: Benevolent leaders are committed to making their organisation better and this trait complements change leadership. They are approachable and accessible but are neither wimps nor pushovers. Benevolent leaders are servant leaders, they put the needs of their employees first. Benevolence includes:

  • Empathy: Empathy is the ability to share an employee’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that employee’s shoes. The change leader’s ability to sense an employee’s emotions about their new workload, new skills and behaviours and how the change is impacting them personally will make a big difference in how the employee embraces the change.

  • Humility:Humility is the quality of recognising that you do not have all the solutions, you are not perfect. Socrates argued that humility is the greatest of all virtues.

  • Respectful Leadership: Respect is about showing admiration for an employee, appreciation for their role and contribution within the organisation. No matter what role an employee does within an organisation, they all want respect for what they do.

This is an extract from: Change Management Leadership - Leadership Of Change® Volume 4

Peter consults, speaks, and writes on the Leadership of Change®.

For further reading please visit our websites:

Leadership of Change®

Change Management Body of Knowledge (CMBoK) Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, A, B, C, D & E