Leadership of Change Agents

I have been considering the challenges that a leader could face whilst leading change agents (by change agents I mean individuals who are catalysts for change), and I have to say – I am intrigued by this concept.

Leading through change is certainly not a new concept but leading change agents, as I see it, is something different.

I would expect a leader of a change agent to be faced with issues of protecting the individual (from resistance), supporting the individual to assert authority (whilst not having position power), and steering the individual toward change which fits with the strategic direction of the unit. None of these issues are new but I have found little of their application to change agents.

I am aware of ‘maverick leadership’ and the concept of mavericks, and do see similarities between mavericks and change agents (thinking outside of the lines). But, mavericks are often referred to as ‘rule breakers’, and this is perhaps an unfair label to brand change agents with.

As the concept of change agents continues then the practice surrounding it (such as leadership) might become a focus (I for one am keen to research this area – I would also be interested in working with someone to do this).

Happy to open up this deliberation to others: Are there difficulties in leading change agents? Should managers feel obliged to protect change agents? How does a leader safeguard their change agents? 


3 thoughts on “Leadership of Change Agents

  1. Sharon Mickan says:

    I am not sure about your definition of change agents – in my experience, effective change needs to be managed in terms of realistic plans with scope for monitoring and adaption and it needs to be led in terms of engaging people, so that individuals can see what is in it for them – seldom can one person do both things!
    I also like to see resistance as a mechanism that people are not engaging – by protecting or resisting the resistors, you do not learn why people are not engaging – and this is a big missed opportunity…


    1. traceywond says:

      Why can an individual not do both of those things Sharon? I have come across several who can. I am not sure whether I lost you on the point about resistance. I was advocating the protection of the change agents, not those resisting.


      1. Sharon Mickan says:

        Yes I agree with you Tracey, that some people can do the task planning and engage people, but do not expect everyone to do that!
        What I meant about resistance, is that instead of seeing resistance as a problem, listen to what is behind the resistance to see if there is a part of the problem that you can do something about…
        Hope this makes more sense now,


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