Icon info
How do you become a leader of change?
Back to overview
Change management

How do you become a leader of change?

Transformation and change are the two key words every CEO is waking up to today. It is ingrained in human nature to stick to fixed routines and values. Organizational psychologist Daan Sorgeloos therefore advocates that everyone learns to discover the change agent in themselves, in order to steer their organization towards the future.
by Antwerp Managment School | January 11, 2019
Share item
Change management

"Everyone wants to change, but no one wants change," it is an often-heard complaint of the change manager. "Sustainable change, therefore, can never be the mission of one person within an organization," stated Daan Sorgeloos, who conducted extensive research on the ideal change agent team and the dimensions of the change agent model.

"Sustainable change can never be the mission of one person within an organization - Daan Sorgeloos"

During an organizational change, we recognize three action groups: the change strategists, the change agents and the change receivers. The key people are obviously the change agents, because they must translate the change strategists' strategic decisions into specific interventions. At the same time, they must create support for these interventions to make sure that there is as little resistance as possible from the change receivers.

People-oriented or project-oriented?

To put together the ideal change agent team, it is important to define a number of roles first. Are you more people-oriented, that is, convinced that people need to change first so that they will then want to help set up and execute the change process? Or do you lean more toward the process-oriented approach where you set up a roadmap and the change takes place by executing that plan?

The 4 roles of an HR Manager

The more 'people-oriented' side -

4 roles:

The more 'process-oriented' side -

4 roles:

Coach: channels resistanceFacilitator: creates commitment
Trainer: encourages learning and developmentProcess innovator: removes roadblocks
Communicator: brings meaningOrganisator: brings structure
Motivator: celebrates successesProject manager: monitors progress

At the center of these roles is the game-changer: he or she acquires, wields and distributes power.

Flexible or controlling?

In addition to a rather people- or process-oriented approach, there is another dimension at play. As a change agent, if you believe that change should grow more emergent, it is more about growing flexibly and spontaneously from the core of the organization. Here, change develops in interaction with members of the organization and transforms itself through the process. Rather, the change agent is a skilled participant who is attentive to feelings, intuition and multiple forms of rationality of both himself and the other participants in the change process.

Do you think that change can only be sustainable and successful if it is driven a priori and controlling from the top and must be brought as a universal claim to the rest of the organization? Here the change agent is rather the expert observer who, from his observations, formulates analyses and/or advice.

The coach, trainer, facilitator and innovator believe more in the flexible approach while the communicator, motivator, organizer and project manager feel more in favor of the controlling approach. It is important that team members sense and indicate which dimension and role they feel most comfortable with.

The ideal change agent team

Once you have constructed the ideal change agent team based on the above roles, taking into account the two dimensions, there are two more important conditions the team must meet.

  1. The team must consist of members who can look at the change task from different perspectives. In addition, they should have knowledge and skills associated with one or more roles and learn to handle their complexities in dialogue.
  2. The ideal change agent team should be self-directed, with shared leadership driven by a high degree of trust. Everyone is responsible for each part of the whole. When these conditions are ticked off, the change agent team is up & ready to lead the organization successfully and sustainably through the change process and into the future.

Share article

About the author

Antwerp Managment School

Related content

Boogkeers campus AMS management school

AMS insights