change-leader-types1There are many factors that distinguish successful change leaders from including communication style, personal management capabilities, influencing skills and commercial acumen.

Two factors, however, help define the style and likely success rate of change leaders. These are (1) the level of ambition they set for their organisation, and (2) their persistence and perseverance in meeting that ambition.

Using these two factors, there are four types of change leader, (see the chart) that emerge. Which kind  are you?

  1. Status Quo Leaders. These managers lack both ambition and perseverance. They don’t want to rock the boat and put their head above the parapet. They may well implement what others demand, but are highly unlikely to set out and deliver their own agenda. Pros: You know what they’re up to. Cons: It’s not very much.
  2. Glory or Bust Leaders. These managers have high ambition, but lack perseverance. They are after ‘silver bullet’ solutions that can quickly deliver major change. If the relevant change programme fails to deliver impressive results quickly these managers can lose interest, and will look elsewhere for new opportunities. Pros: Possibility of major and rapid improvement. Cons: May confuse and exhaust the organisation in the process of flitting from one strategic initiative to another.
  3. Incremental Leaders. These managers may not raise the bar too high, but they follow through on their promises and will deliver in the end. Pros: Ability to continuously improve existing operations. Cons: May fail to identify breakthrough change opportunities.
  4. Breakthrough Leaders. These managers set the bar high for their teams, but don’t expect to get there straight away. They understand that it may take many versions before the right solution is discovered and will stick with their objective until it is achieved. Pros: Most likely to deliver major performance improvement. Cons: May lose the support of other key stakeholders if results take too long to be delivered.

© Stuart Cross 2009. All rights reserved.