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Leading Change - leaders cast long shadows

This is the fourth in a series of leading change. Read Leading Change one, two and three here.

The shadow a leader casts, or the example they set, is crucial to good leadership and when leading others through change. 

What we do, not what we say, stays in people’s minds and influences their behaviour.

A few years ago a leader of a corporation stated that anyone in the company would now fly economy and not business class. The next time a team flew somewhere together everyone moved to their allocated seat towards the back of the plane and then realised that their leader was sitting at the front of the plane!

The contrasting example is the leader lining up with his team at an airport check-in when the attendant stated that the leader was being upgraded to business class. The leader gestured to a junior team member at the back of the line and asked if they had ever flown business class - and when the answer was ‘no’ - provided the upgrade to them.

As a leader, being mindful of our behaviour and aware of the shadow being cast is key. Even if we think we're not being watched, somebody is seeing what we're doing and drawing conclusions from that.

The level of trust and respect our team has for us is directly influenced by what we do.

An effective change leader has the ability to inspire, motivate and develop their team to have the flexibility to deal with change and rise to the challenges that may emerge. The ability to lead a team through change is a critical requirement for today’s leader.

Change is more likely to succeed with a leader who leads by example and casts a great shadow that inspires others to follow. Three attributes that successful change leaders have are:

  •     Commitment
  •     Accountability
  •     Capability

In today’s rapidly changing environment, a leader capable of leading their team, committed to embracing change, and accountable to deliver that change is a must, not a nice to have!

Without these attributes a change initiative is often doomed to fail. 

I’m curious about what your organisation needs to do to ensure your leaders understand and have the competencies required to lead change and cast the right long shadows?

This blog is the fourth in a series (read Part 1 here) and part of a larger white paper on ‘Leadership in Driving Change’. Feel free to email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it./" if you would like a copy.


Maree Burgess works with Leaders, Leaders of Leaders, Experts and anyone else looking to increase their skills in leading change, sponsoring projects, build their confidence to step into more senior roles.

She is an author of “The XX Project: Giving women the skills and confidence to step up in corporate”. You can order your copy here.

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