Blog 5.7.2023

TOP3 change competencies for senior leadership


a woman and two men in front of a greenwall discussing

When change is continuous, senior leaders need an updated competence set-up to keep up the organization performing well – and renewing at the same time.

In the current change landscape people easily face the overflow of changes, if no one cares about the capacity that they actually have available for changing their ways of working and daily routines as well as learning new things. And once they feel that there’s too much going on, the benefits seeked with the change initiatives are jeopardized.

What are the TOP3 competencies to lead and manage continuous change?

1. Balancing load and capacity

Senior leaders have the main responsibility in balancing load and capacity – the balance between current business, and actions that are needed from people to shape their mindset and daily behaviours to enable renewal. To be able to manage the balance, senior leaders need an up-to-date overview of the change landscape: the impacts of different change projects to different groups of people over time.

Naturally the overall picture of the change impacts just does not come by pressing a button. It requires a thorough understanding of the impacts and expectations that various projects in the portfolio have on people. Since we all know that there are masses of simultaneous changes going on in large companies, there needs to be structures in place to map the impacts and build an overview for management decisions.

2. Prioritizing and sequencing initiatives based on people impacts (as well)

Once the overview of the change impacts is available, senior leaders need to utilize it as one information source for decision making. Currently, in many organizations only the “mechanical” side of the changes overrule, and the people side is neglected, even though nothing changes if people continue to do things in the same old way.

It’s not once or twice when I’ve heard a senior leader doubting the need to invest in change leadership and management: “Why put time and money on this, shouldn’t we just deliver what has been promised in the project charter and be able to show the numbers?” Luckily more and more senior leaders have begun to understand, that ultimately the business case cannot be realized if people don’t do something in a new way.

So, what to do? Learn to acknowledge the available capacity that people have on development and renewal on top of their duties related to running the current daily business. It is not possible to adopt 10 or 20 changes at the same time. One, two or maybe even three is doable. The advocates of lean and agile would talk about limiting the amount of simultaneous work. With wise prioritization and sequencing decisions, it’s possible to considerably increase the odds to successful changes.

3. Bring clarity through communications

There’s nothing new about the third competence for senior leaders – and for all leaders actually: embrace clarity by communicating what is important at certain point of time and why. In times of change, this calms down the environment and helps people keep the focus on what is essential.

When have you critically reviewed the content of your leadership development programmes? Are you able to find the TOP3 competencies in the programmes?


change leadership

change management

Auli Packalén

Director of Brand and Offering

Auli works as Director, Brand and Offering, at Gofore. She has previously worked 10+ years in change management consultancy CCEA, acquired by Gofore in 2021.

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