Change Leadership Vs. Change Management (With Pros And Cons)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 June 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.

Every organisation goes through a phase where they change certain aspects of their operations, including physical and human resources. To ensure that these necessary changes do not negatively impact productivity and profitability, they create rules or implement structures. Knowing the difference between change leadership and change management is crucial to understanding and making these changes seamlessly. In this article, we define these business processes, examine the differences between change leadership vs. change management and highlight the pros and cons of applying them.

Defining Change Leadership Vs. Change Management

To better understand the difference between change leadership vs. change management, it is beneficial to review their definitions:

What is Change Leadership?

Change leadership is a style of management that emphasises the importance of improvement and adaptability in an organisation. This leadership method aims to complement change management by executing crucial practices to transform swiftly. It injects urgency and produces large-scale changes. Leaders motivate and equip employees to understand and adapt to the transition phase to achieve their goals faster.

Related: What Is The Importance Of Leadership In The Workplace?

What is Change Management?

Change management is the collection of structures and tools an organisation devises and implements to produce and manage change within and outside the company. It involves the methods for minimising resistance, monitoring the transition process and reducing the risks of effecting change. Companies usually implement this structure to transition from their current to the desired position. Although this method aims to generate slight improvements, it can also help organisations achieve significant growth.

Related: What Is Management? Definition, Functions And Levels

Comparing Change Leadership Vs. Change Management

While both approaches to corporate transformation have some similarities, they are different in many ways. Here are the key differences between them:


Change management is a broad term that includes all the processes for causing and monitoring organisational transformation. It monitors change on a wide scale and creates a structure that allows the transition to manifest smoothly. Change leadership drives the reformation. It encompasses the techniques and practices necessary to achieve the change. The leader takes specific actions such as motivating staff on the essence of the change and its benefits.

Tackling resistance

Change may be necessary to improve the performances of employees and enhance productivity. It is important to make changes without overwhelming the staff. Change management focuses on overcoming resistance to change by junior employees and managerial staff. They rely on change leaders to help solve this problem. While resistance to change is a major concern, change leaders focus more on understanding and motivating employees as a solution to a possible act of resistance.


Change management follows an authoritative approach to handling change. It also involves making rules for others to follow. In contrast, the features of change leadership are consultative, motivational and participative. It aims to understand and effect change from a human perspective.

Factors that determine success

The success of change management depends on the efficacy of the structure the organisation plans to achieve through corporate restructuring. In comparison, change leadership depends on the style and methods of the leader or team aiming to spur the transformation. Their skills, experience and unique leadership methods are crucial to helping the company get a positive reaction from employees.

Expected scale of change

Usually, implementing change management brings small-scale change even though it can produce significant results. Change leadership produces large-scale change for the long term. Although it can drive substantial change, it depends on change management to be effective.

Related: What Is A Marketing Manager? Definition, Roles And Skills

Advantages Of Change Leadership

Here are the benefits of adopting this leadership style:

  • Improving employee productivity: This organisational reform can help employees regain confidence and focus, boosting productivity.

  • Injecting urgency: Unlike change management, change leadership incites a sense of urgency, making organisational restructuring feasible and fast.

  • Promoting a positive work environment: When a significant change begins at the managerial positions, it can help eradicate a prior toxic work environment. A change in leadership can promote optimism within the organisation and restore employees' trust in the organisational process.

  • Maintaining stability: Sometimes, organisational change is necessary to restore order and focus in a professional environment. Maintaining inclusivity and eradicating bias and internal politics can help employees have the mental and emotional stability to become productive.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

Disadvantages Of Change Leadership

Although this leadership style has various benefits, here are some challenges you may experience when applying this method:

  • It may take time to implement. Leaders sometimes encounter resistance when attempting to implement a change, making the process lengthier than usual.

  • It can be challenging for managers. Applying this leadership method may require adjusting leadership styles to suit the current situation and personnel. Doing this can be challenging, as it makes some professionals adopt unfamiliar leadership techniques.

Advantages Of Change Management

Change may be necessary for many businesses to meet the challenges of staying relevant in the industry. The advantages of implementing change management are numerous and include the following:

  • External perspective: Many organisations hire external experts to offer an outside perspective on the company's current situation and help implement necessary changes. These external professionals can easily ignore or avoid the cultural bias or internal politics that may hinder the company's development.

  • Improved employee skills and capabilities: Training exercises may be essential to equip employees with the vital skills and knowledge to manage corporate revamping. These training sessions help improve employee capabilities, making them more valuable to the organisation.

  • Better working tools and environment: Effecting positive change within an organisation may require changing or upgrading the work equipment and environment. High-quality tools in a conducive environment can make employees work faster and generate more accurate results to boost productivity.

  • Achieving organisational goals is viable: When a managerial change is successful, it helps the company improve their business operations by offering better quality services. This can lead to improved sales and better interaction with customers.

Related: How To Develop Effective People Management Skills

Disadvantages Of Change Management

Here are some of the drawbacks of this method:

  • Long adjustment time: In cases where employees and management entirely welcome organisational change, adjusting to it can be longer than expected. Adjusting may involve retraining employees for an extended period.

  • Employee or management resistance: A change management team can only be successful if every employee cooperates with them. Sometimes, employees and some managerial staff show resistance to changes for fear of losing their positions or disrupting the order of daily operations.

  • Likelihood of failure: When an organisational change fails to meet expectations, it can result in the loss of resources, money and valuable time.

  • Change may be slow. Implementing organisational change may exceed the stipulated time of expected results. During this process, the organisation may keep spending money on the new project for a more extended period than they expected.

  • Possible employee dissociation: Some employees react strongly to specific changes, resulting in a disagreement with management or the change management team. While some employees adapt or endure the process, others may choose to disassociate themselves from the organisation.

Related: Your Guide To The Strategic Management Process

How To Prompt Organisational Change

Follow these steps to make organisational changes seamlessly:

1. Define and implement change in line with the business interests

Most businesses hardly make significant changes in personnel or methods, especially when they are successful. They only make these changes in response to pressure from rival companies, new state laws or high demands of customers. Effecting lasting and profitable transformation in an organisation begins with identifying areas where a change is necessary.

Determine the changes that can provide solutions to the challenges you encounter while considering the business goals. Beware of organisational changes that halt or eradicate success in other business areas. Ensure that the new development corresponds to the company's policy and business interests and is compliant with state laws.

2. Develop a communication strategy

After deciding on effecting specific changes, it helps to plan how to implement them. A crucial part of implementing the changes is devising a communication strategy. Explain the new concepts, including the reasons for their implementation, the benefits and challenges they may bring and how long they can last. Create open communication channels where employees can express their thoughts and concerns. Examine the feedback and use it to improve communication within the establishment.

3. Prepare management and staff for the new development

Adjusting to change can take longer than you expect. To ensure that every member of the organisation understands the changes, training staff may be necessary. Organisational changes may include an overhaul of physical resources or introducing a new means of operation. Operating new technology requires training. Research the most efficient teachers, choose between virtual or physical learning and plan suitable schedules for observing the training sessions.

4. Monitor the process

Businesses make changes to achieve specific feats and meet targets. While the shift progresses, you want to know if you are achieving your goals. This is possible if you monitor the process. Compare the results since the implementation of the new measures. You know the change is effective if you observe improvements in various areas of interest. Ensure to create a proper change management structure to oversee the change process, identify its limits, and look for opportunities in it.

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