Great Leaders Make Organizational Change Look Easy

By Dr. Mary Kay

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

Many people have studied the correlation between leadership skills and leaders’ ability to create organizational change.

The findings of these studies conclude that leaders who are successful at leading change, the movers and shakers, have both the intelligence quotient (IQ) and the emotional quotient (EQ) to successfully initiate and complete a needed change.

Here is the Secret Formula

IQ + EQ = Fantastic Change Agent

Change agents have specific qualities and characteristics that make change happen at a faster rate than ordinary leaders. The blend of IQ and EQ occurs when leaders explore their emotions and internal needs and determine what will give them the courage to lead in areas that are unknown.

Be Self-Aware and an Instigator

EQ is an essential component to being able to fulfill the additional responsibility that goes along with being a change agent. Self-awareness is a crucial element that’s needed to handle the tough challenges of adversity, overcome resistance from others, and become the initiator and spokesperson for change. It also provides consistency between what we say and what we do.

By looking within prior to leading change, a change agent establishes a foundation for building trust and respect that others need and expect. This level of leadership and self-insight is not an easy task and requires a determined resolve to know oneself.

Good Communication Skills


For example, to increase your EQ, ask yourself this question:  Am I curious and courageous enough to go after the unknown? This question helps us realize that we may need to improve our tenacity when dealing with uncertainty.

A change agent is an initiator. They operate with a sense of curiosity and sensitivity to the concerns and hesitations of others instead of pretending they do not exist.

Many people, when confronted with change, flee and hide below the surface with overwhelming feelings of fear, skepticism, and discomfort. Understanding this, the change agent must recognize this fear and balance it with sensitivity and emotional intelligence.

Strengthening the EQ prevents the change agent from wavering from his or her convictions. No matter the circumstance, a leader with a foundation of inner truth will not only survive a change but thrive.

Stop the Spin on Things

Studies from Kouzes & Posner indicate that 83% of followers expect honesty from their leaders more than any other leadership characteristic. Being truthful, honest, and ethical are values that demonstrate the leadership skills of integrity and credibility. If ethics and integrity are lacking in a change agent, a change will not occur.

This information is not new. Conducting oneself in an ethical manner is essential to initiating any form of recommendation or proposal. Here’s the key – do others think you are honest? If the receiver does not believe in the messenger, they will not believe in the message.

It is a simple concept but not easy in practice, as indicated by the frequency of poor judgment among senior leaders in today’s organizational environment.


Confidently Remove Barriers

To effectively lead change, leaders must be willing to remove barriers and obstacles to the change process. The change agent must have the confidence to act upon tough situations that are holding back progress and the courage to keep the status quo from returning. To be excellent, the leader has to be willing to become a risk-taker and willing to stay true to his or her convictions for making the change.

To pull this off, you need a blend of belief, courage, and risk-taking. This combination of tenacious leadership skills generates a level of expectation that goes beyond the hope that a change will result in improvement.

The change agent has a degree of confidence that creates inspiration in others to do what needs to be done. Actually, followers want to be a part of the change as they gravitate toward a leader that has a high level of belief in the project and also in themselves.

Envision the Change

When the vision is understood, and the leader is credible, followers are able to understand the purpose of the change and how they fit in. This fuels others to want to follow the plan of the change agent and make the organizational change a success.

Purpose and vision aid followers in coping with the proposed change. The change leader foresees a positive outcome. Followers envision how the change will work instead of being fearful of a lapse in judgment.

This is not easily achieved. There are nagging naysayers that chip away at the expectations brought forth by the change agent.

It is through vision and foresight that the change agent excels by demonstrating, through his or her belief, that the change will produce a positive result. This is the difference between being a good leader and being a great leader.

Grab the Minds and the Hearts of People

Change agents understand that being knowledgeable (IQ), connecting with others (EQ), and thinking positively create a call to action in which members take action.  Here is the fun part – the transition from a change agent’s plan to a team’s mission is in place.

At this point, people involved in the change have team synergy, a call to action, and can-do mindsets. The formula of knowledge plus emotion assists the change agent in leading people and implementing change effectively.

How Do Great Leaders Make Change Look Easy?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay
Dr. Mary Kay is a business leadership strategist, executive coach, trainer, author, and co-founder of the About Leaders community. She’s consulted with hundreds of companies and trained over 30,000 leaders. Her Ultimate Leader Masterclass helps managers become more confident, decisive leaders.
  • Mo Babalola says:

    Great Piece. Very well written.

  • nina merchant says:

    Liked the four bullets. However Change also needs same amount of energy and time in the implementation. Many change efforts have failed as there has been no detailed plan from now to there. thank you for sharing.

  • Thanks Mo and Nina for your kind remarks on this article. Nina, do you think the lack of detailed plans for implementing the change occurs because the “team’s mission” is not established? In other words, in your experience is it common that the change agent doesn’t involve people in the implementation plan or there just isn’t a plan at all?


    keep writing Dr.Mary ….

  • Eugenio Césare says:

    You are absolutely right!

    The key role of a Leader is to share the business vision and create an environment that promotes the engagement of the people.

  • Guilherme Figueiredo says:

    The purest truth. Great!

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