Change Leadership vs Change Management

Moving with urgency to actualize big visions


As noted by Harvard Professor and leadership guru Dr. John Kotter in his bestselling book, Leading Change, leadership is the name of the game. In today’s world of continuous change, corporate America’s impetus should be focused 70% towards leadership and 30% towards management.

The educational systems in America and Europe are predominantly geared towards management, developing in people “managerial mindsets.” Their goal is to maintain the status quo, avoid hazards, and keep things running smoothly.

Management is associated with:

  • Budgeting
  • Staffing
  • Regulating
  • Planning
  • Problem solving

These are all essential aspects of a successful company. However, a primary focus on management doesn’t move anybody forward because its main emphasis is reducing complexity and keeping things the same. Today, most organizations are over-managed and under-led. Change management doesn’t lead to progress within a company—leadership does.

Change leadership is a profoundly different concept and practice than change management—and it’s not just a matter of semantics. As noted by Harvard professor, Dr. John Kotter, “These terms are not interchangeable. The distinction between the two is actually quite significant. Change leadership is about urgency and going after big dreams versus the change management method of keeping things under control and maintaining the status quo.”

Change leadership is associated with: 

  • Vision and strategy
  • Removing barriers
  • Getting buy-in
  • Motivating action
  • Inspiring people

Change leadership is about multitudes of people who want to make something happen; empowering people throughout all organization levels to achieve big visions.

Right now, the world talks about, thinks about, and executes “change management,” a process to keep things running efficiently and effectively day after day. The world doesn’t do much change leadership. With the rate of change increasing exponentially and 70% of large-scale change efforts failing, the need to lead change is critical.

Change leadership will be a big challenge in the future, and the fact that almost nobody is very good at it is a very big deal, too.

Please explore the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about Tom Flick and his work as a change leadership speaker.

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