Leaders are not change agents. They are leaders! Leaders and change agents hold two separate positions within an organizational change initiative.
Leaders have power and authority within their organizations primarily due to their position. They are able to hold people accountable for changing their behaviors and activities. The organization watches and listens to leaders to see what is true and what is expected.
Change agents, on the other hand, need to enlist leaders to help them make change happen. As a change agent, you do not have the same authority to get things done as leaders. Instead you rely on your ability to influence the organization indirectly. Leaders look to change agents to do the legwork.
This difference does not mean that a senior manager or executive cannot be the change agent for an initiative. The change agent role is not defined by position, but by the relationships to the leader of the change initiative and to those going through the change. You can be a leader within your own department and still be a change agent for a broader initiative (think IT, Strategic Planning, Lean Six Sigma, Communications, Organization Development, etc.).
With which role do you identify the most?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post: Change agents are leaders.