How change agents lead the way


Article By: Dr. Ken Bartlett

How change agents lead the way


Everyone who contributes to certain changes is a change agent. However, leaders, managers, and supervisors in an organization play various key roles for successful and lasting change. Leaders can serve as change agents to act as powerful forces to start, maintain, and ensure permanent change occurs. For example, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Prize with her work as an agent for change in human rights, especially education of women and girls.


As a leader and a change agent, there’s a few things you should keep in mind before leading the way.


Who are change agents?

In very large-scale change efforts, some organizations hire or appoint specialized change agents to champion and help guide the process. However, if you have supervisory responsibilities you should consider part of your job being a change agent.


Communication changes confusion to clarity

One of the most important roles for leaders and change agents is to help in shaping core beliefs about change. For example, some people feel that change should happen in a step-by-step process that is planned. Often times, they are surprised by how the actual change process is often quite different than they imagined. Change moves in cycles with waves of activity. This important point needs to be communicated frequently. Many research studies have confirmed the importance of effective communication in leading, managing, and facilitation change.


Smooth things out as you lead the way

Change in an organization can create significant stress. Attitudes towards change can be influenced by supportive communication from immediate supervisors and others in leadership positions. However, formal leaders must realize that they should not try to drive the change process on their own.


Leading and learning new ways

Change today requires a new kind of interaction and learning among everyone. It is more effective for change agents and leaders to show openness, willingness to embrace new ideas, and be co-learners in the process of change. In order to move forward together, formal leaders in an organization need to talk with people who have different perspectives, experiences, and views about change.


MS2W institution leaders, such as deans and department chairs, should create opportunities to meet with instructors to hear how their work with new instructional methods is progressing. This gives opportunities to not just hear of progress and challenges, but also provides a chance to champion how permanent changes in teaching will improve the work readiness skills for students. Successful institutionalized change requires leaders to support major changes even when other pressures demand their attention. Lead the way to an open discussion about institutional changes, go to Institutionalization Workspace on Edmodo.