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Change Agent Capabilities


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Personal skills | People skills | Organizational skills | See also


So you want to be an agent of change? To consult and facilitate significant organizational shift? Here are some of the capabilities and skills you need.

Personal skills


To be a change agent, you need to be able to see. Not just visually, but with all your senses, perceiving things like culture, climate, market and the deeper zeitgeist and weltanschauung around and beyond you.


Change is, well changeable. Things may go one way or the other and you need to be able to swing with the tide, or against it as needed. You need to be able to work comfortably outside your comfort zone and turn your hand to whatever needs doing.

Tolerance of ambiguity

Situations of change are often uncertain and ambiguous. This is one reason why many people find change difficult and even intolerable. To work in change as your daily bread, you in fact not only need to tolerate ambiguity -- you also need to be comfortable with it.


There is a difference between sales people who believe in their products and those who are not really bought into what they are selling. Likewise, those who are enthusiastic about the changes they are promoting are more likely to be successful than those who seem doubtful and uncertain.

People skills


To manage change it can be very helpful if you know and have a good social connection with people across the organization. We help, like and work with people we know and who have helped us in the past, not just a faceless consultant who parachutes in and tells us we must change.


Communication is not just about you telling people things, it is about what they truly understand from what you say. Communication is also a two-way street and  what you hear and what you understand from them is equally important. Good communicators have a great deal more chance of creating change than bad communicators.


Beyond communication, you will need to change minds, persuading others of the reason and value in going along with the change. Of course this site can be very helpful for you in this task, but it does not do the job by itself and you need to acquire real persuasive skills.

Organizational skills


In change you need to be sensitive to many things, from the general climate to individual feelings of the people involved. Sensitivity is like seeing. If you cannot see then you will soon collide with immovable objects. If you are insensitive you will collide with immovable resistance to change.

Political ability

In change, internal politics will likely abound as stakeholders who feel threatened by the change wield their power, sometimes subtly and sometimes with great and damaging anger.

If you can see the political landscape and if you can create alliances that head off revolt and which can be used to counter other political moves then you will have a much greater chance of making a lasting difference.


Change often involves working in various teams and groups that are brought together to discover and effect the change. If you can build teams and shape them and motivate them, then you have the power of other people in your hand.

See also

Communication, Politics, Resistance to change


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