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Change leaders and change managers: different or complementary?

Raymond Caldwell (Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 August 2003



The role of “change leaders” in initiating or sponsoring strategic change in organisations is often positively presented as the counter‐image of traditional managerial roles. Managers, and especially middle managers, are viewed as individuals lacking in the, apparently, proactive attributes of flexibility, risk‐taking and openness to new ideas essential for creating or managing change. However, there have been few attempts to clarify these counter‐images, or the extent to which the roles of leading and managing change may in fact be complementary. The research presented here uses a Delphi‐style panel of ten change agent experts to identify and rank the sets of “attributes” they perceive to characterise the roles of leading and managing change. The findings suggest that the attributes of the two roles are different, yet complementary. It is concluded that the distinction between “change leaders” and “change managers” may be useful in clarifying the nature of the relationship between leadership and management in processes of organisational change.



Caldwell, R. (2003), "Change leaders and change managers: different or complementary?", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 24 No. 5, pp. 285-293.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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