The Heart of Change

4 Most Important Elements in any Change Initiative

This past weekend had taken a trip with a group of friends as part of our group retreat to unwind and have fun with our wives. Was privileged to ride along with my good friend Desmond (Dez as we call him) who is a change catalyst and an expert in management information systems. For the better part of the journey, we talked about change management, change leadership, and catalyzing change and had some concurrence in many areas but also divulgence in a few areas. Typical of two Ph.D. scholars defending their schools of thought.

At least one of the obvious alignments we had was the fact that CHANGE is constant. Successful leaders and organizations are continually in a change mode. This is so because they want to be efficient in their spaces, they are always setting new horizons, goals, or objectives, and many organizations are continually finding ways to improve their processes, operations, and experience in the eyes of their customers.

In today’s world, it doesn’t matter really whether we are the ones who initiated the change because somehow we are affected even if we were not the originators. This, therefore, means that change is inevitable for anyone or any organization. This brings a critical angle that the heart of change is in the people. Whether managing or leading change, its success is dependent on the people and how they are supported throughout the change period. This means that the role of the Change Managers or Change Leaders is to guide their people through the transition – this means championing people to think or act differently by promoting the benefits of the change.

People approach change in many ways: Some are always:

  • Reluctant to adopt change
  • Neither accepting nor rejecting change
  • Early adopters

Therefore as a Change leader, you must expect some pushback from your people especially those who are reluctant and those who have not yet accepted nor rejected the change. Second, listen to each one of these groups for their views and reasons for their current status in change adoption. These views will enable you to identify the barriers to the change process which would be a good learning point as a change leader to work on improving or cause correcting to allow room for more people in the change bus.

For a likelihood of success, the change leaders or managers must demonstrate 4 key characteristics consistently:

  1. CLARIFY the why in the change VISION. Change leaders must not only see the result of the change and work backward by clarifying the why of the change to challenge, and champion others. They must be able to communicate the vision in a way that compels others to follow.
  2. CONNECT with their constituents. It is one thing to have clarity of vision, it’s another thing to Compel others to follow. The result of compelling is momentum in the intended direction and momentum can only occur if the constituents are connected with the leaders and the organization. Connecting is a skill that change leaders must build.
  3. INSPIRE their constituents to focus on the process that leads to success. Change is never easy. Change is always uphill. People will not find the motivation to move uphill regardless of the challenges if they are not inspired or feel inspired. Change leaders, therefore, have a critical role to instill rhythms of self-discipline that will inspire constituents to follow through beyond just being motivated to succeed. John Maxwell said, motivation keeps you going but, self-discipline keeps you growing. Therefore inspiration builds self-discipline which enables higher chances of success.    
  4. EMPATHETIC with the people and the process. Change is uphill, sometimes people feel exhausted along the way, and others feel hurt in the process. Therefore change leaders must be able to understand what their team members are feeling or experiencing, which helps them make better decisions for the group. An empathetic leader can implement change effectively and still make sure their constituents are heard and included.

Are you ready to lead a change?

A change leader’s mandate is to reorient the attitudes and behaviors of people (mindset). The mindset can only be tapped successfully if the leaders connect with their constituents at personal and emotional levels so that they can adapt to new ways of thinking and acting. 

It’s worth noting that there will always be resistance. Not everyone will be committed to the change process. However, by implementing the four key elements of change — Clarify the why of the change vision, connect with constituents, inspire constituents, and be empathetic — you’ll position yourself for likely success. 

Most important, As a Change Leader, start by thinking about the heart of change – the people that you’ll be supporting. Always engage those who will be affected by the change and keep them at the center of the change plans — this is how you’ll build a stronger team during the change process.


Gilbert Ang’ana

CEO at Accent Leadership Group

Top 40 Global Change Management Gurus, 2022 by leadersHum


Published by Coach Gilbert

I am Gilbert Ang'ana (Coach), the CEO/Founder of Accent Leadership Group. I am a Leadership Coach, Scholar and Practitioner with extensive experience in Corporate Leadership (15+ years). I am also an Award-winning Global Change Management Expert. I have worked with over 2000 leaders worldwide on various change management initiatives through Coaching, Training/Teaching, Speaking and Research. My purpose and that of my organisation are to Advance Leadership Advocacy in Africa and Beyond Through Coaching, Teaching & Research to Build a movement of Leaders whose Power of Influence will far Exceed the authority of their Position. Want to be part of this movement? Join our various programs at

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