My career spans experience across organizations of differing size, from the largest to some much smaller. I have witnessed, participated, managed and led change throughout my 20 years. Only recently have I been able to put perspective on those changes that have been successful.

In a very general sense, the projects that have come closer to achieving objectives are those that there was both excellent change management AND change leadership. I make this distinction simply from the standpoint that while it is easier to locate and engage change management expertise, it is significantly more difficult to engage effective change leadership.

In many instances, I have witnessed organizations source and engage change management expertise from outside the company. Whether it’s a contractor, a consultant or part of a larger vendor organization, change management services are relied on to effectively managed and execute change management activities. The problem begins when the client expects this external resource to lead the change within the organization.

The accountability for leading organizational change must reside with the client. One of the primary responsibilities of a change management consultant is to coach clients on how to successfully and effectively lead change. However, outsourcing change leadership simply does not work.

There are an number of reasons for this position.

  • Influence
  • Knowledge
  • Charisma

These are characteristics that those embedded in the organization can possess. External consultants do not have the organizational context to exert this type of influence. For effective leadership to occur, change leadership must come from within. The next time you are looking for change help, make sure you clearly articulate the expectations of your consultant but be prepared to fully engage in the language of leading change.