Lessons on Leading Change



Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks by Barbara A. Trautlein, PhD. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2013. 258 + ii pages. US$24.95.

We've all heard the old adage that "change is constant." Of course, there's truth in the statement. Daily, we face change globally and locally, at home and at work. Process engineers are especially tasked with creating change through continuous improvements, cost reductions, and regulatory compliance.

An interesting new book, Change Intelligence, by Dr. Barbara Trautlein describes change leadership styles from the perspective of "heart, head, and hands" to help bring success to corporate change initiatives. Each of us has a tendency toward behaviors that emphasize one or more of these categories.

Heart, Head, and Hands

First, "heart" points to individuals who focus on the people who are impacted by the change. A process engineer implementing a new safety system that exhibits high heart behaviors will emphasize his/her people skills and communication strengths. The change leader will actively engage employees and contractors, keenly listening to understand what matters most to them about safety. But, change leaders that focus primarily on the "heart" need to also be aware of sharing the vision of the project as well as developing a strong plan of action.

A "head" leader is one who is excited to try new things. S/he is normally two or more steps ahead of the rest of organization with a future-oriented vision and can't wait to see the results. People with strong "head" behaviors are able to envision a better process, yet may fail to engage other team members in the change initiative. Additionally, s/he may get so energized about the next generation product that s/he forgets to lay out the details necessary to implement the new system.

Finally, many engineers may recognize themselves as "hands" leaders. This type of change leader is detail-oriented and can efficiently develop an error-free plan. We excel at writing procedures and designing project plans. However, individuals with heavy "hands" behaviors may fail to engage the other team members to brainstorm alternate solutions to the problem.

Change Intelligence is a great book that drives leadership self-awareness. It includes many case studies for new supervisors, project managers, and executives as well as how different types of organizations have coped with change. Because self-awareness can improve our ability to work with others, and lead to tangible cost reductions along with safety improvements, Change Intelligence is recommended for chemical engineers at all stages of their careers.

How can you use your change leadership style to become a more effective chemical engineer?