Successful change is modelled by leaders and actioned by change champions

27 April 2022

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
~ Benjamin Franklin 

Organisations operate in a world driven by pervasive change and thrive by responding to change proactively. 
To be proactive in managing opportunities and risks delivered by pervasive change, the change champion model has been a successful approach adopted by organisations of all sizes. The change champion approach encapsulates Benjamin Franklin’s words practically in day-to-day operations.

The case for modelling change

In a recent Bizcommunity article highlighting 2021 BizTrends, Francois Kriel highlighted modelling change as one of the areas in which an organisation can successfully implement change that sticks and is sustainable over the long-term. 

For organisations to lead successful change campaigns internally, executives must model the change first. If the top leadership are not (1) involved, (2) engaged or (3) committed to the change, a fundamental building block is missing.

Essentially, modelling change means embodying the change and adopting its practical behaviours ahead of the rest of the organisation and setting the examples required. 

From there, the question: if modelling change is the C-suite’s responsibility, where does the change champion fit in?

Why your organisation needs to involve change champions

Members of the C-suite are not always the assigned change champions – sometimes it is their direct reports, middle managers or other employees who work with teams day-to-day. 

A change champion is a person who displays natural leadership abilities or holds a position of influence within the organisation that allows them to enable, inspire and empower their teammates. They are those direct reports, managers and team members who support decision-makers. Both roles actively influence each other for the better. 

Change champions are integral drivers of change efforts internally and valuable allies to help cement the change outcomes through accountable behaviours across the wider organisation. 

Is there a secret to how leadership identifies or cultivates these internal organisational influencers? We have identified a couple of important foundational characteristics that a change champion should ideally possess that would enable them to be more effective in this role: 


Why is it valuable?

Trust and Social Capital

Individuals who have been with their organisations for an appropriate amount of time have built trust and relationships with their colleagues.

Leadership Competencies:

The individual demonstrates good leadership qualities, potential or competencies as identified in the organisation’s development plans and such a role would benefit their progress in the organisation.  


A great change champion is naturally curious and open to change, technology, or new ways of working.

Dare we say that Benjamin Franklin referenced inclusive leadership – a principle that we believe is integral to navigating and effecting any change successfully? Whatever change your organisation needs to approach (be it a new system or risk response plan) it is valuable to consider how designing change inclusively by involving the right people can help the organisation implement change successfully.