Five Key Roles for Leading during Change

It has been said that there is one constant in life…that constant is change.  This is not just true in our personal and professional lives, but in the organizations where we work.  So here is the big question…how do we manage it?  How do we prepare for it?  How do we thrive in it?  How do we lead in it?  While change requires each of us to navigate our own change journey, as a leader, there are some key roles we have in helping others in our organization successfully navigate theirs.

According to Prosci, there are five key roles that any leader (no title required) should step in to during times of change.  Prosci refers to these roles as CLARC: the acronym for Communicator, Liaison, Advocate, Resistance Manager, and Coach.  I will let you in on a little secret…as a successful leader, these roles will benefit you throughout your leadership journey. 

Let’s dig a little deeper into each of the roles:


In this role, you relay critical messages about the change.  You are in a position to help build awareness of the need to change across your team. One Prosci study showed that employees want to receive messages about how a change will impact them and their work from the person they report to. As their leader, you are the preferred pipeline for information about the organization, work being done, and changes that are happening.  Providing answers to important questions, such as what the change means to the team, what’s in it for them and why is the change happening, is key to helping them navigate the change.


In this role, you are the conduit between your employees and other parts of the organization, such as the project team for the change.  You provide information from the project team to your direct reports, and feedback to the project team. As a leader, you can provide design, functionality, and employee comments about the change to the project team. By facilitating the feedback loop, you can influence success and sustainability of the change.


Most employees look to their one up to determine their level of support for a change. As a leader, you are positioned to influence your team’s desire to participate and support the change by authentically demonstrating your support for it. This will require a bit of prework on your part. For you to be authentic, you will have to first navigate your own change journey, at least to the point where you have made the personal decision to step in and support the change.

An important call out is that advocacy goes both ways. You are an advocate for the change, you are also an advocate for your team.   

Resistance manager 

Let’s start out by saying that you should never be surprised by resistance…it’s a natural human reaction to change.  I would also caution us not to label team members as RESISTORS. Instead of being surprised by it, you should expect it.  The key goal in this role is to identify the resistance, understand what is getting in the way of team members navigating through it, and then help them close the gaps. 


Any change journey is done at an individual level.  As a coach, you are there to help each employee throughout the change, providing information and support, and helping them develop the necessary skills that are needed to succeed in the post-change world. 

As you think about your leadership journey, which of these roles could you spend more time in? How can you impact and influence the change your team is experiencing? What insights can you share based on your leadership experiences?

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