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Change & Transformation12 MIN Read

The 2024 Market Report for Leading Change

Written by

Executive Council for Leading Change

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In an era marked by unprecedented change, the ability to navigate and lead organizational transformation has become essential. Recognizing this, the Executive Council for Leading Change (ECLC) initiated a survey aimed at distilling the substance of effective change management from those at the helm of leading these efforts within their organizations.

This initiative aimed to gather practical insights and understand challenges directly from ECLC members' experiences. The survey's goal was to not only assess current practices but also to guide us as we navigate through organizational changes.

Executive Summary

The responses from the ECLC member survey have underscored a universal acknowledgment: leading change is not just critical but crucial in achieving and sustaining organizational success. Key findings include:

Strategic Objectives and Impactful Actions: Cultural transformation and process optimization emerged as top strategic priorities, with digital transformation and organizational restructuring identified as the most impactful actions undertaken in 2023.

Challenges and Strategies: Overcoming resistance to change and maintaining momentum were highlighted as significant challenges. Effective communication, leadership alignment, and employee engagement were pinpointed as essential strategies to address these obstacles.

Insights for 2024: Strengthening stakeholder engagement, nurturing leadership at all levels, and building a culture that embraces change were emphasized as key learnings for driving successful change this year.

For ECLC members, these findings validate existing strategies and offer a roadmap for enhancing organizational agility and resilience in the face of future changes.

Question 1 - Strategic Objectives in 2023

Respondents identified a range of strategic objectives, with a significant emphasis on cultural transformation and process optimization.

Cultural Transformation: Over 60% of respondents flagged this as a top priority, indicating a widespread recognition of the need for inclusive, agile, and resilient organizational cultures.

Process Optimization: Approximately 70% of leaders focused on streamlining operations, reflecting the ongoing need for operational agility and effectiveness.

Technology Implementation: The integration of new technologies for improved performance was highlighted, indicating a strong focus on leveraging technological advancements to support strategic objectives.

The emphasis on cultural transformation and process optimization signifies a shift towards a more holistic and people-centric approach to leading change. This pivot reflects a recognition of the critical role organizational culture plays in sustaining change and the requirement for streamlined operations to enhance agility and responsiveness.

Question 2 - Most Impactful Action in 2023

The single, most impactful action of the year varied, with digital transformation and organizational restructuring in the lead.

Digital Transformation: Cited by approximately 37% of participants, this action points to the critical role of technology in enabling change.

Organizational Restructuring: About 33% of leaders found restructuring to be their most impactful action, highlighting the importance of aligning organizational design with strategic goals.

Market Expansion or Contraction and Business Model Innovation: Both received around 13% of the vote, indicating strategic moves to adapt to market conditions and innovate in business practices.

The focus on digital transformation and organizational restructuring shows the necessity for businesses to remain technologically adept and structurally agile to navigate the rapidly evolving business landscape.

Question 3 - Aligning Change Initiatives with Long-Term Vision

The alignment of change initiatives with organizational long-term vision is crucial for sustainable success. The survey results reveal:

Direct Alignment with Strategic Goals: A dominant 67% of respondents emphasized direct alignment with strategic goals as their top method for ensuring initiatives support their organization’s long-term vision, highlighting the critical significance of strategic unity in change efforts.

Balancing Various Stakeholder Interests: Around 27% of leaders focused on balancing stakeholder interests, reflecting the complex task of managing expectations and needs from diverse groups inside and outside of the organization.

Adapting to Market Trends and Responding to Internal Feedback: Both were minimally highlighted (at 3% each), indicating that, while important, these factors may be secondary to direct strategic alignment and stakeholder management in the priority list of change leaders.

The strong preference for direct alignment with strategic goals highlights the critical importance of ensuring change initiatives are not isolated efforts but are deeply integrated into the organization's long-term strategic framework. This alignment ensures coherence and synergy between short-term actions as well as long-term aspirations.

Question 4 - Biggest Challenges in Leading Change

Identifying and understanding challenges is key to developing effective strategies for future change initiatives. The survey highlights:

Resistance to Change: The foremost challenge, cited by 40% of participants, is overcoming skepticism and pushback, stressing the human element as a significant barrier to change.

Maintaining Momentum: Keeping energy and focus long-term was the second biggest challenge for 20% of respondents, pointing to the difficulty in sustaining effort and enthusiasm throughout change processes.

Measuring Impact: Effectively evaluating change outcomes was a challenge for 17% of leaders, highlighting the complexities involved in assessing the success of change initiatives.

Identifying resistance to change and maintaining momentum as significant challenges sheds light on the inherent difficulties in altering established behaviors and sustaining engagement over time. This insight calls for a sustained focus on change management strategies that address the human dimensions of change.

Question 5 - Effective Strategies for Internal Change in 2023

The strategies deemed most effective in driving internal change highlight the significance of engagement, alignment, and communication:

Communication: Clear and consistent messaging about change emerged as a fundamental strategy for 93% of respondents, indicating the essential role of effective communication in facilitating understanding and buy-in.

Leadership Alignment: Ensuring leaders are advocates for change was another key strategy for 87% of participants, reflecting the need for senior executives to champion and model the behaviors and attitudes necessary for change.

Employee Engagement: Encouraging active participation and feedback was widely regarded as crucial for 67% of respondents, underscoring the need for input at all levels in the success of lasting change initiatives.

The overwhelming consensus on the value of communication, leadership alignment, and employee engagement illustrates the foundational role these elements play in facilitating successful change. Clear communication ensures transparency and clarity, leadership alignment provides direction and momentum, and employee engagement drives feelings of ownership and commitment.

Question 6 - Measuring the Effectiveness of Change Initiatives

Organizations utilize various metrics to assess the effectiveness of their change initiatives, with a focus on performance, outcomes, and employee satisfaction:

Business Outcomes: Evaluating the impact on profits, market share, etc., was noted as the key approach for 77% of participants, emphasizing the link between change initiatives and overall organizational success.

Performance Metrics: Tracking quantitative improvements was a common approach for 73% of those surveyed, highlighting the reliance on measurable data to evaluate progress and impact.

Employee Feedback: Feedback from employees was another common approach for 70%, pointing to the validation of change efforts through an employee lens.

The focus on business outcomes, performance metrics, and employee feedback as primary measures of the effectiveness of change stresses the need for a comprehensive approach. This approach balances quantitative outcomes with qualitative insights, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of change efforts as a whole.

Question 7 - Key Factor in Evaluating Success of 2023 Initiatives

When evaluating the success of change initiatives, certain factors stood out as being particularly significant:

Financial Performance Indicators: A substantial 50% of respondents identified financial metrics as the key factor, underscoring the ultimate goal of enhancing organizational profitability and operational sustainability through change.

Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: With 33% of the vote, the level of employee engagement and satisfaction served as a crucial barometer for the success of change efforts, reflecting the understanding that motivated and satisfied employees are essential for achieving lasting change.

Market Position and Customer Feedback: This was important for 10% of respondents, still highlighting the importance of maintaining or improving market standing and responding to customer requirements as indicators of successful change.

The identification of financial performance indicators as a key success factor highlights the ultimate objective of enhancing organizational profitability and sustainability through change. However, the significant emphasis on employee engagement and satisfaction reflects an understanding of the critical role that a motivated and satisfied workforce plays in achieving lasting change.

Question 8 - Crucial Elements in the Success of Change Initiatives

Understanding the factors that are critical to the success of internal change initiatives reveals a strong emphasis on the need for leadership and employee involvement:

Top Management Support: Leadership buy-in and support were identified by 53% of respondents as the most crucial factor, underscoring the urgency of top-down commitment in driving change.

Employee Involvement: Active participation from employees was seen as essential by 20% of participants, highlighting the influence of engaging the entire organization in change efforts.

Clear Vision and Objectives: Well-defined goals for change were crucial for 10% of those surveyed, indicating the need for clarity and direction in change initiatives.

The survey results highlight that top management support and employee involvement are critical to the success of change initiatives. This reinforces the idea that effective change requires both top-down leadership and bottom-up engagement. This dual approach ensures that change is driven by a united front, encompassing leadership vision and employee participation.

Question 9 - Tools or Platforms for Change Management

The survey results indicate a diverse range of tools and platforms employed to manage and lead change initiatives:

Collaboration Tools: Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams, alongside SharePoint and Email Communication, were frequently mentioned, reflecting the value of communication and collaboration in managing change.

Project Management Software: Tools such as Asana and Trello also played a significant role for 50% of those surveyed, facilitating the organization and tracking of change projects. The diversity of tools and platforms used in leading change, from collaboration tools to project management softwares, highlights the technological underpinnings of modern change efforts. Interestingly, collaboration tools and project management softwares share two functions that are required to enact change: communication and collaboration. This underpins the importance of buy-in at multiple levels within an organization.

Question 10 - Focus Areas for 2024

Looking ahead to 2024, leaders plan to concentrate on several key areas to enhance their change leadership capabilities:

Enhancing Communication: Improving clarity and reach was a common focus for 77% of those surveyed, emphasizing the ongoing need for effective communication strategies in leading successful change initiatives.

Strengthening Collaboration: Enhancing teamwork across departments was also identified as a priority for 73% of respondents, underlining the value of collaborative efforts in achieving change objectives.

Building Resilience and Developing Agility: Preparing for challenges and responding quickly to market changes were also highlighted, pointing to the requirement for organizations to be adaptable and resilient.

The prioritization of enhancing communication, strengthening collaboration, and building resilience as well as agility in 2024 reflects a forward-looking approach to leading change in organizations. These focus areas acknowledge the ongoing challenges and opportunities presented by external factors as well as the urgent need for organizations to remain communicative, collaborative, and adaptable.

Question 11 - Addressing Resistance to Change in 2024

To effectively manage resistance to change, leaders are planning to adopt several strategies, with a particular emphasis on:

Enhancing Executive Communication: Demonstrating the urgency of clear leadership messaging in guiding and reassuring teams through transitions is a key strategy for 73% of respondents.

Involving Employees Early in the Process: Early employee involvement is highlighted as another key strategy for 73% of those surveyed, ensuring that team members feel valued and are more receptive to change.

Offering Training and Support: Providing necessary training and support to staff is another key strategy for 53% of participants, which emphasizes the commitment to equipping the workforce for new challenges and changes.

These findings highlight that a resistance to change ties into a human need or preference for consistency. An approach that emphasizes the value of clarity, inclusivity, and empowerment is therefore necessary, to overcome skepticism and resistance.

Question 12 - Critical Skill for Leading Change Effectively in 2024

The survey identified several skills as critical for leading change effectively:

Agility and Adaptability: This skill, chosen by 37% of respondents, is seen as paramount, emphasizing the requirement for leaders to be flexible and responsive to evolving circumstances.

Data-Driven Decision-Making: Accounting for 23% of responses, this skill highlights the growing need to leverage data to inform strategic decisions.

Emotional Intelligence and Empathy: Both of these traits are considered crucial, with 20% of leaders recognizing the value of understanding and managing emotions during times of change.

Leaders enacting change pull from different parts of themselves, to drive change that lasts. They must see patterns not only in ever-changing markets but also in varying operational metrics and human behavior.

Question 13 - Key Learning for Leading Successful Change in 2024

Reflecting on past experiences, leaders shared insights deemed essential for leading successful change in 2024:

Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement and Communication: 57% of respondents believe that engaging stakeholders and maintaining open lines of communication are key to navigating change successfully.

Developing and Nurturing Leadership at All Levels: About 23% of respondents emphasize the value of cultivating leadership capabilities across the organization to drive change.

The emphasis on strengthening stakeholder engagement and communication as well as developing leadership at all levels highlights the recognition that successful change is deeply relational and requires broad-based leadership. Engaging stakeholders ensures alignment and buy-in, while nurturing leadership across the organization democratizes change efforts, spreading ownership and accountability widely.

Question 14 - Survey Demographics: Who Are the Change Leaders That Were Surveyed?

The survey attracted a host of high-ranking executives, predominantly Chief Transformation Officers, Senior Vice Presidents, and other leaders from key areas like Change Management, Culture & Engagement, and Digital Transformation.

Question 15 - Survey Demographics: The Executive Reporting Lines

The survey participants represent a broad spectrum of organizational units, reporting directly to high-level departments and offices such as the CTO Organization, Finance, Transformation Management Office, as well as IT. A significant number of respondents also come from strategic and leadership-focused units, including those reporting directly to the CEO, COO, and specialized divisions like the Marketing Transformation Office, Program Management Office, and Strategic Business Transformation. This diversity highlights the involvement of top-tier executives and key decision-makers from across the organizational spectrum, in driving and overseeing change initiatives.

Question 16 - Survey Demographics: The Scale of Participating Organizations

The majority of survey respondents are from large-scale organizations, with a significant portion representing entities with more than 20,001 employees. Additionally, a notable group work for companies with 10,001 to 20,000 employees, highlighting the survey's strong engagement from executives in substantial, global corporations. With large workforces comes a need to lead change at scale, increasing the complexity of each change management initiative.

Question 17 - Survey Demographics: Industry Span of Survey Participants

Survey participants hail from a diverse array of industries, including Healthcare, Finance, Technology, Retail, Energy, and Consumer Goods, among others. Predominantly, there is a strong representation from the Technology and Finance sectors, indicating the survey's significant engagement with executives from fast-paced, innovation-driven industries. This mix, including Healthcare, Retail, Energy, and more, underscores change management's relevance across both traditional and dynamic industries, highlighting its universal importance.


As we progress through 2024, the ECLC survey highlights a clear mandate for leaders: to prioritize agility, technological integration, and a culture that is receptive to change. Key findings stress the importance of addressing digital transformation, operational efficiency, and the human aspects of leading change. The emphasis on overcoming resistance and maintaining momentum underscores the need for transparent communication, leadership unity, and active employee engagement.

For the remainder of 2024, ECLC members are encouraged to leverage these insights to craft strategies that not only respond to immediate challenges but also anticipate future market shifts. The focus should be on embedding adaptability into our organizational DNA, ensuring that we remain ahead in a landscape marked by continued, rapid change.

The Executive Council for Leading Change

The Executive Council for Leading Change (ECLC) is a global organization that brings executives together to redefine the landscape of organizational change and transformation. Our council's aim is to advance strategic leadership expertise in the realm of corporate change by connecting visionary leaders. It's a place where leaders responsible for significant change initiatives can collaborate, plan, and create practical solutions for intricate challenges in leading major shifts in large organizations through major shifts.

In a world where change is constant, we recognize its crucial role in driving business success. ECLC’s mission is to create a community where leaders can excel in guiding their organizations through these dynamic times.

Interested in joining ECLC? Learn the membership criteria and sign-up here

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