Photo of 3 business people holding up interlocking gears with image of the world, people, and growth in each of the 3 gears

The rate of change today is as fast as it’s ever been. In fact, the typical organization today has undertaken five major firmwide changes in the past three years — and nearly 75% expect to multiply the types of major change initiatives they will undertake in the next three years. Yet half of change initiatives fail, and only 34% are a clear success (Gartner). The numbers are startling, but not surprising.

Executive Coaching Connections (ECC) recently had the chance to connect with Val Ott, ECC OCM (Organizational Change Management) Consultant, to understand the complex challenges leaders and organizations face today as they continue to lead through unprecedented change. Having worked with dozens of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies, Val has supported leaders, teams, and organizations to manage effectively and successfully through significant transformation, restructure, and change.

“My goal is always to guide and support leaders through transformational change by understanding the business problems they are trying to solve and partnering with leaders to lead their teams through change, minimizing business and workforce disruption, and ensuring changes stick. And while change management is certainly not new, there are new challenges and pressures. Now more than ever, it’s critical that executive leaders understand how to be great change leaders to be able to attract and retain top talent and deliver business results.”

Val offers her experienced insight across 4 critical components to help change leaders drive effective and successful change.


1.   PLANNING:  View Change Management as a true business partner.

Developing a comprehensive change plan should happen well in advance of the change and should address all aspects and impacts of the change.

Change leaders should be sure to:

  • Allow ample time to plan, and resist moving too fast.
  • Appoint one lead who is fully responsible for all aspects of the change curve.
  • Meet teams where they are. Lead, coach, and advise leaders and teams throughout the process to guide them to where you want them to be.
  • Establish success metrics. Measure at key points along the change curve.
  • Build change capability by honing leaders' change leadership skills. Ensure ownership for the change through a viable, long-term, sustainment plan.


2.   ALIGNMENT:  Make the connection to the top.

Affecting successful change is not just the responsibility of one leader. It takes all organizational levels and a solid network with energy, passion, and commitment to be successful.

Change leaders should be sure to:

  • Connect the change to the company’s strategy and clearly message the value proposition of the change. Make every word count - be crisp, clear, and succinct.
  • Engage and align all stakeholders. Ensure that everyone understands the benefits of the change and why the change Is happening.
  • Build leadership action plans for engagement and launch awareness campaigns.
  • Embed the communications strategy with consistent messaging throughout a variety of communication channels that reach all stakeholders.


3.   CHANGE LEADERSHIP APPROACH:  Ensure it is specific and unique to your company.

Every organization is complex and different. The approach for how you lead change should be balanced and take into consideration your company's culture, the way you run your business, the needs of your people, and the business problem(s) you are trying to solve.

Change leaders should be sure to:

  • Enlist qualified support with skilled, change management expertise who are not limited by one methodology, and who will draft a customized change methodology that will work for you.
  • Co-create the strategy. Collaborate with your change management experts to ensure that your unique business and needs are addressed.
  • Listen, listen, listen.
  • Be prepared to wear multiple hats - business lead, leadership coach, change champion, and chief communicator and supporter of the change.
  • Ruthlessly prioritize based on what adds the most value.
  • Stay connected.


4.   COMMUNICATION:  Adapt to leading in new and different ways.

Facilitating engagement among a remote or partially remote organization takes concerted time, effort, planning, and follow-up.

Change leaders should be sure to:

  • Intentionally seek interaction and engagement.
  • Develop a thorough communications strategy with multiple ways and opportunities to share feedback.
  • Map the timing of communication touch points and prepare questions.
  • Allow time and opportunity for open discussion.
  • Develop authentic connections. Draw people in virtually using short videos and storytelling that is simple, honest, and direct.
  • Take regular pulse checks and be prepared to adjust accordingly.


In addition to planning, alignment, approach, and communication, there is another dimension of successful change that is critical for leadership.

As Val points out, leaders must also manage through change on two levels: their own reaction and response to change and their team member's reactions and responses to change. “Adopting and maintaining good change leadership is not always easy and can be forgotten, particularly when leaders are under pressure. Remember, people will take their cues from you as their leader,” explains Val. “With this in mind, I would challenge leaders to ask themselves 3 key questions:”


1.   How can I best take care of my people through the change?

How a company treats its people may affect its brand and company perception and that can impact the bottom line. Recognize and understand change impacts on your management team and on your workforce and be mindful of your role in supporting people through change. Get creative with your support if your team is remote. Remember that with today’s virtual reality and many people still working remotely, it’s harder to see, judge, and react to people/workforce impacts. Put in the extra effort required.


2.   What is my personal commitment to the change i.e., how do I show up for my people?

Humanize the change through your personal commitment, and don’t be afraid to show and share your commitment. Think through and decide on your leadership action plan for how you will engage your team and show up throughout the change. Always be cognizant of how you show up to your peers, your teams, and your employees – let them see the authentic YOU.


3.   Am I seeking the right support to add value to the process; to make change better for both me and my organization?

Change is hard. Successful and sustainable change is even harder. Early on, make sure you have the right resources (with strong, demonstrated, change leadership skills) and training programs in place to help lead a thoughtfully planned, strategically sound, well executed, sustainable change.


As Albert Einstein famously said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

It is then the measure of leadership to rally their team, their business, and their organization to plan, orchestrate, and lead through change with success.


Additional Resources

  1. A New World Needs a New Approach to Change Management. Forbes, Jan. 25, 2022.
  2. Change Is Hard. Here’s How to Make It Less Painful. Harvard Business Review, April 7, 2022.
  3. CEOs, Here’s How to Lead in an Era of Constant Change. Harvard Business Review, June 16, 2022.



ECC has an experienced global team of executive coaches and consultants who are certified, trained, and highly skilled in providing specialized support for executive leaders, their teams, and their organizations. If you or your organization are looking to prepare for and to lead change, to drive business results and accelerate success, we’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you. Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at +1.847.920.0190.



Val Ott is an ECC OCM (Organizational Change Management) Consultant based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Through her extensive, deep, consulting career, Val supported dozens of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies across many industries focusing on large-scale transformations, mergers & acquisitions, and organizational restructures. Her work addresses people impacts, technology integrations, and process changes necessary to ensure seamless, successful, and sustainable change. Val holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in Communication from Northern Illinois University.