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Change Leadership: Traits to Model the New Way

Updated: 1 day ago

"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 for 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

  • Benevolence

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Change Leadership Capability:

The skills required for leading day-to-day operations are very different from those required for leading change. Organisations invest huge amounts of capital in 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 with their strategic objectives, develops a high-performing team, and also changes 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 refer 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 employees believe what their leaders say and do.


Benevolent leaders are committed to making their organisation better, and this trait complements change leadership. They are approachable and accessible, but they 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 and appreciation for their role and contribution within the organisation. No matter what role an employee plays within an organisation, they all want respect for what they do.

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

For further information please visit our websites:

Peter F Gallagher, change management body of knowledge (CMBoK), Leadership of change, change management books, change management volumes, change management, change management models, change management gurus, change management experts, change management global thought leaders, change management influencers, change management books, change management Leadership, change management keynote speakers,

Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Guru, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.

Listed #1 by leadersHum Top 40 Change Management Gurus You Should Follow in 2022 (Mar 2022).

Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (2023-2022-2021-2020) by Thinkers360.

Listed #15 in the “Top 30” for Global Gurus Leadership (2024) by Global Gurus.

Ranked #1 Business Strategy Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Business Strategy (2022) by Thinkers360.

Ranked #6 Leadership Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Leadership (April 2024) by Thinkers360.

Business Book Ranking

Change Management Behaviour - Leadership of Change® Volume 6, listed among the 50 Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2022.

Change Management Adoption - Leadership of Change® Volume 5, listed among year-to-date’s (Jul 2021) most popular books on business and technology from Thinkers360 member thought leaders.

Change Management Handbook - Leadership of Change® Volume 3, listed among the 50 Business and Technology Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2021.

Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.



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