How to Lead Change


Police leadership today will be effectively passing the torch from one generation to another, from the elders to those of the "new breed."
Police leadership today will be effectively passing the torch from one generation to another, from the elders to those of the “new breed.”

Collaboration and info sharing is an important and on-going function of a police leader.

To illustrate this point, Chief Mike Masterson (who is retiring today after a decade of leading Boise police) alerted me to this insightful article by Phil Eastman on the essentials of leading change.

Today’s police leaders are in a highly-charged atmosphere in which they will be expected to lead change and improvement in their organizations. That is because there exists today a national belief that police in our nation are to be mistrusted.

This is the time that current police leaders need to be intentional about passing their wisdom and knowledge to new and emerging leaders and, at the same time, get out front and start restoring lost trust or consciously caring for and nurturing the community trust you currently have. A leader is responsible for the growth and development of those whom he or she is privileged to lead.

Effective policing in a community is about a relationship. If one of the parties in that relationship believes the other has broken trust, there is trouble ahead. How is that relationship repaired? By listening to one another. Sharing understandings. Apologizing for errors. Taking first steps to show trustworthiness, and, eventually being trusted once again, forgiven and moving forward. That’s the way it has worked in marriages and between groups of conflicting people (think of South Africa and Northern Ireland).

Here’s what management consultant Phil Eastman recently learned about organizational change. Think about how it would apply to trust-building both inside and outside your organization.


The Five Essentials for Effectively Leading Change

By Phil Eastman

Over the past 6 months I have had the opportunity to work with three large organizations on major changes. In each situation the organization was looking for a way to engage and challenge senior team members to actively and effectively lead the changes.

That may not sound like a tough task at first blush. Most people would intuitively recognize that leadership is an important ingredient in successful changes. The challenge however is to get the organization’s senior leaders to recognize their importance for successful change and then to get them to act on that recognition.

There is no shortage of research about the importance of effectively leading change. John Kotter’s book, Leading Change and Prosci’s research are seminal works on the subject. Most leaders in large organizations have either read or heard of these works. What’s missing from their understanding however is the level of engagement required for them to effectively lead change. In other words what they will need to do.

In each of the three client engagements the task was to simplify the role of leading change so leaders would embrace the role, then challenge and support them to successfully execute that role.

This was done through several mechanisms in a short period of time but in each situation what struck me as interesting is what resonated with the leaders. Three things moved them to embrace and execute their leadership role.

  • The clear statement that without their leadership the changes would fail.
  • A simple list of five things they needed to do to fulfill their role.
  • Change support teams ready to equip them for their role.

The first challenge was to show leaders that the benefits of their changes would be lost without their leadership. Research from Prosci, McKenzie and IBM all show the direct correlation of leadership to success. Consequently we demonstrated to the leaders that they would not achieve their organizational and individual goals without active, effective engagement in the change. Once they were convinced of their critical role we shared the five things they would need to do.

We did not attempt to provide a detailed list of actions but rather provided the five essential components of leading change.

  • Advocate for the change-engage with peers, superiors and subordinates to explain why the change is happening, why it is happening now, the individual and organizational benefits of the change and the risk of not changing successfully.
  • Authorize resources-it takes real time, money, people and mindshare for change to succeed and as such leaders have to prioritize resources so they and the team and be effective.
  • Remain available-leading change is a contact sport. There is no substitute for the leader’s presence in the organization and with the teams while the change is underway.
  • Leverage credibility-leaders have two types of credibility. The first is positional and the second is personal. It is critical that leaders use both within and outside the organization to demonstrate their commitment for the change.
  • Communicate continually-people have an insatiable appetite for information during change and as such the leader needs to be the chief change communicator.

It was interesting to watch each time I delivered this list of five how leaders began taking notes. It is my firm belief that leaders want to perform well for their organizations and for their teams. That said, when you tell leaders what is expected they take note and engage.

Once leaders embraced their role they were supported by trained, capable change professionals who could direct them toward specific activities that would best move the changes forward.

Leading change effectively is one of the most important aspects of leadership in today’s fast moving and complex organizations. Taking on the five part role and having people to support you is essential to your success and your organization’s success.

[See more at]

[See also the work that Chief Noble Wray has done with regard to “trust-based policing” when he headed up the Madison Police Department. It has continued in the work of the current chief, Michael Koval. See:]