6 Vital Change Leadership Skills (With Tips For Practising)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Leading a department through change can be an important part of a leadership role. People in these positions who can predict, handle and implement successful changes can help others to thrive during transformations. Developing change leadership capabilities can help you improve your workplace and assist with the key phases of a company shift. In this article, we explain how certain leadership skills help during change, explore why they are beneficial, review a list of these abilities and discuss some tips for practising them.

How change leadership skills facilitate transformation

Some change leadership skills can make a significant difference in how managers and supervisors guide others through transformations in the workplace. Workplaces undergoing development can create environments where change often occurs. Leaders can help other employees to improve and adapt to these progressions.

Leaders who utilise technologies and innovative resources can help those in the workforce reach a greater potential. By emphasising how changes can benefit everyone, they can create a forward-thinking work environment. Leaders can inspire and motivate progress within their teams by doing so. Some important skills for a change leader include project management abilities, communication skills and technology skills.

How can these skills benefit leaders?

A proactive style of management can help leaders to manage and facilitate dynamic and progressive changes in the workplace. Managers who develop these leadership skills can teach themselves how to be flexible and forward-thinking within their roles. Focusing on growing their skills can help them excel at handling shifts in processes, technologies and systems within the workplace.

Related: Top Qualities Of An Outstanding Leader

6 types of change leadership skills for the workplace

By allowing yourself time and space to learn these leadership skills, you can help to develop your workplace throughout phases of change. Interpersonal skills, understanding technology and strategic thinking can all assist you during company shifts. Some of these skills include:

1. Active listening

Communication involves articulating your idea and opinions while also actively listening to the thoughts of others. Leaders who practise active listening can better understand their colleagues. This helps them more effectively direct shifts and implement new processes. Active listening requires genuine engagement with people who work with you. It requires listening to them and understanding their point of view to the best of your ability. When leading change, use active listening skills to help colleagues feel heard and react well to change.

Leaders who solicit feedback by encouraging it in meetings or creating focus groups typically do this by using active listening skills. Helping others to understand that you appreciate feedback creates an environment where colleagues are more likely to offer it. One way to track the progress of changes in systems or processes is by asking those who use them to report on their experience regularly. This feedback is useful when people feel comfortable being honest and when leaders are open to hearing their views.

Read more: Active Listening Skills: Definition And Examples

2. Communication

Communication skills can prove essential for effective leadership throughout a change. The ability to inform, instruct and direct colleagues clearly is typically crucial. This is often the case when implementing new organisational systems and processes. Effective communication can be key to easy transitions in the workplace. Developments and shifts that occur with minimal interruption can help companies to thrive during change.

Establishing regular and effective communication can occur in many ways. Frequent correspondence, through phone calls, emails and in-person meetings, is a popular way to facilitate regular communication. Some companies hold regular training to explain how to communicate effectively within the workplace. Communication usually requires clear and proactive messages from all departments within an organisation.

3. Critical thinking

Changes and developments often mean motivating people within a work environment to operate with a high degree of strategic thinking. Planning is an essential step to creating productive changes. This is especially true for changes that involve many people or multiple departments. Strategic and critical thinking usually help people to maintain a broad view of the entire process. This can help people further understand the intricacies of changes at each stage.

Thinking critically about change helps to create an appropriate order of operations. By using strategy, leaders can maximise efficiency. Effective leaders often involve the ideal person at the ideal time throughout each phase of the change. Strategic thinking involves the ability to anticipate potential issues. By expecting these possibilities in advance through the change process, they can more effectively help colleagues adjust during the shift.

Read more: Critical Thinking Skills: Definitions And Examples

4. Research

Facilitating company shifts can pose certain risks, but leaders can mitigate those risks by conducting thorough research of the implemented changes in the business and how others have coped with issues. Researching alternative approaches can also help leaders to plan their approach more effectively.

Research can help to inform leaders how they can innovate change. It can help them understand how they can troubleshoot potential issues that may arise. It can also be an essential step to succeeding during a company shift.

5. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a skill where you can perceive emotions in others and empathise. This is an important skill in change leadership. Emotions become varied and are a common component of organisational change. High emotional intelligence allows you to assess how members of the team react to a change, even when they stay quiet about their concerns.

If you notice that your team is indifferent or lacks confidence about a change, it might mean that they need your help to see the value of the change. This skill can also foster empathy among team members. This is important for the development of active listening skills and overall communication.

6. Optimism and confidence

Optimism is a positivity that is visible to others. This extends confidence because someone who feels confident often shows optimism. This quality can spread to team members. The spread of optimism can help counteract or undo any tensions that arise during phases of change.

Confidence is a belief in yourself or others or a process. Changes in an organisation can become stressful for teams, so it is important that a leader feels confident in the change's success. This confidence can transfer to your team so they believe they can start a change successfully. It can also give them confidence in your ability to lead the change successfully. Self-confidence is also helpful when you face significant challenges. Your belief in your team and the process can be inspiring during the challenges, too.

Tips for practising change leadership skills

Understanding the skills necessary for helping to implement change is the first step. Practising these skills is the next step in leading effectively through a company shift. Here are some helpful tips to help you practise leadership skills with your team:


Implementing change can be complex. Delegating a few responsibilities can help to divide the workload evenly among department members. Responsibilities like progress monitoring, research and collecting feedback from colleagues can all make acceptable shared tasks. Delegation allows you to build collaboration skills within your team while balancing your workload effectively.

Encourage communication

Encouraging regular opportunities for communication among colleagues and between departments can be vital during changes. This helps everyone understand how each department or person manages and progresses the actions needed to improve processes. Hosting regular work-in-progress meetings or open forums can help to facilitate communication and feedback.

Related: 4 Types Of Communication (With Tips)

Celebrate small wins

Motivating colleagues includes proving how a change is positive. Helping them to accept change can be easier when you celebrate the little victories. This process can create positive connections with a new element of a company's organisational systems or processes. These small wins usually include short-term goals set during the planning phase and serve a few important purposes, such as:

  • feedback opportunities surrounding the validity of the company vision and strategy

  • giving morale an uplift and helping everyone to focus on short-term goals instead of larger, more futuristic goals

  • building confidence in the effort and attracting the positive attention of those who might require convincing

Do internal research

This step is most effective before implementing a change. Knowing the current system and how colleagues relate to it helps to add context to changes. It is important to understand how you can implement the change for the company while keeping the change relevant to the company's current standards.

Make SMART goals

Having expectations can be key in motivating colleagues during change. It can also help to clarify your understanding of how to introduce the change successfully. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. Keeping these five aspects at the forefront of everyone's mind during a change can create an environment where the changes feel achievable.

Explore more articles