A different approach to building leadership capability for change

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We all know that leadership is key to successful change, and organisations are increasingly paying attention to building leadership capability for this purpose. Most organisations develop this through general leadership programmes. These programmes can be effective in explaining the key theories and models and offering some practical tips. However, a real focus on change leadership is often overlooked.

Our clients often tell us, ‘… our internal training programmes are really good, but not very effective. Most of our leaders know the theory, but struggle with the reality of implementation.’

As change consultants, we work with leaders of all levels of capability. In all of our engagements we aim to develop the capability of the people we work with, whether this is through knowledge-transfer, training or up-skilling.

When it comes to leadership change capability, we believe that, next to generic leadership development programmes, leaders need on-the-job, practical training. McKinsey Quarterly agrees with us (or we agree with them!). In a recent article, titled ‘Why leadership-development programs fail’, they argue:

  • Develop only a few leadership skills that are relevant to the organisation – not just a one size fits all programme
  • Combine leadership development with on-the-job practical training on projects that have a business impact
  • Change behaviours and mind-sets of leaders as part of the development
  • Measure the results and return on investment

So when it comes to leadership capability, we often take a slightly different approach than traditional leadership development programmes. It allows our clients to continue to drive successful change long after we have left.

One of the ‘different’ ways we build leadership change capability is through the Able and How Change Index. The Change Index is our diagnostic tool used to improve the performance and accelerate the implementation of large change programmes. Through our approach we offer leaders and implementation teams a different viewpoint of their programme, allowing them to see things from a new light, and act in a way they have not done before. We encourage open discussions, focusing on analysing what is working well and what can be improved.

We also track the effectiveness of capability development over time; using our Change Index tool we monitor the progress and performance of programmes as well as scores on change leadership. With all of our clients we have seen a significant increase in these scores as a result of our approach. And these scores are sustained over time, clear evidence of the lasting effects.

What are your experiences with leadership programmes and change capability development?

Please contact anyone on the consulting team to discuss your challenges further. It will be great to hear from you.


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