Episode 124: How Modern Leaders Champion Change

The 90th Percentile: An Unconventional Leadership Pocast

Published: November 1, 2023


Every organization is experiencing change. Some of the changes come from the external environment, such as customer expectations, government regulations, global competition, or new domestic competitors. Other changes are coming from within the organization; such as changing employee expectations, hybrid work schedules, redesigned teams and structures, automated activities that minimize drudgery, reengineered corporate culture, flat productivity increases- and yes, the adoption of AI technolgy. In this episode, we’re exploring how modern leaders champion change.

Key Learnings on Championing Change

1. Importance of Championing Change:
Data from over 100,000 leaders worldwide shows a direct correlation between a leader’s ability to champion change and their overall leadership effectiveness.
– Leaders competent in championing change had direct reports who were more confident in the organization achieving its strategic goals.

2. Promotability and Championing Change:
– Leaders with a strong ability to champion change have higher potential for promotion and are perceived more effective in their roles.

3. Challenges and Resistance to Change:
– While change is inevitable and can lead to growth, it’s not always welcomed or understood by all stakeholders, as seen in the case of Facebook’s rebranding to META.

4. Five Strength Building Behaviors for Championing Change:
– Innovation: Change should be accompanied by innovation to make it acceptable and productive.
– Acting Quickly: Leaders who act quickly are twice as effective at implementing change.
– Strategic Perspective: Provides a roadmap for where the organization is headed.
– External Perspective: Leaders need to be in tune with external changes and competitor actions.
– Inspires and Motivates Others: Alongside pushing for change, successful leaders pull others along by inspiring and motivating them.

5. Strategies for Improving Change Management Skills:
– Focus on elevating all five behaviors or concentrate on a select few to reach a high percentile of competence.
– Most leaders aren’t born with the ability to lead change but can develop this skill through experience and practice.

These insights emphasize the critical importance of championing change in today’s ever-evolving business landscape and offer actionable strategies for leaders to harness this skill effectively.

Connect with Jack Zenger


Zenger Folkman hosts an exclusive live webinar every month, where you can meet Jack Zenger and Joe Folkman, and join in a conversation about their latest research in leadership development. Find out more information and register here.

Additional Resources

5 Required Skills for Leading Change—  Jack Zenger & Joe Folkman
Facebook Meta Rebranding— New York Times
Top 20 Business Transformations of the Last Decade— Harvard Business Review