Conscious Agility and Change Intelligence

Barbara A. Trautlein‘s (@btrautlein) Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks focuses on people “struggling with the process of organizational change” and offers “a simple yet powerful model for change leadership.”

Based on our experience working with clients, and Artful Transformation and Conscious Agility (with co-authors Brad Barton and Mark Ferraro), I was very intrigued!

Catalysts or Alchemists

For decades, I struggled with naming / labeling those with the quintessential characteristics for “causing” or “activating” fundamental change or transformation. Ultimately, I embraced “Catalyst” (dictionary, wikipedia, etymology) or “Alchemist” (dictionary, wikipediaetymology).

Likewise, I consistently recognized the characteristics of catalysts/alchemists, including their ability to strategize, execute, champion, manage, facilitate, coach, and adapt while fundamentally evolving. While many people focusing on human potential, leadership, culture, strategy, etc. embraced the labels of “coach” and “coaching,” I subtly continued to embrace the labels of “catalyst” and “catalyzing” yet still used the more common vernacular of “coach” and “coaching” (or “transforming”).

Furthermore, I consistently recognized the orientation of catalysts/alchemists, which unified three forces: human nature, being, and doing. Again, while many embraced a more-soft “way of being” with an emphasis on mindset and many others embraced a more-hard “way of doing” with an emphasis on behavior, I subtly continued to embrace an integrated orientation rooted in “the catalyst manual/guide.”

I was introduced to the catalyst manual/guide very early in life. While I have leveraged various translations (from the early-1900s to the mid-1960s) of the manual/guide throughout the years, one translation (published in 2001) emerged and remains paramount! Furthermore, given the openness of the manual/guide. I have integrated and leveraged various other paradigms, perspectives, models, theories, etc. with the manual/guide throughout the years.

Undoubtedly, in a world of constant change, every act is transformative (or every act is an act of transformation or change) — to activate human potential and actualize an impact based on some intent! If you are a product manager, project manager, director, executive, team members, or take on any other role, you transform your energy and other’s energy to actualize an impact based on some intent.

Furthermore, if you shy away from the catalyst manual/guide because of the word “war,” you have sadly missed the point — The Art of War (Sun Tzu) is about human nature!

Change Intelligence

Discovering Change Intelligence (when it was published in 2013) was refreshing! To say the least — not only is Change Intelligence grounded in practice, but it provides a model that unifies many aspects of being a Catalyst or Alchemist (change leader/change agent). Anyone who is serious about the business of “change” or “transformation” related to leadership, culture, strategy, etc. can’t be without Change Intelligence! Not only does Change Intelligence offer “a simple yet powerful model for change leadership” but a simple yet powerful model for leadership (in general)!

Change Leadership & Change Management

Change Intelligence readily distinguishes between change leadership and change management.

It is possible for change to result in bottom-line business benefits as well as empowerment for individual employees — if it is led effectively. And that’s a big “if.” So often, change is led ineffectively, without an understanding of how we can optimize ourselves to be the best change leaders possible. That’s why I’ve developed my original, proprietary system for developing what I call “change intelligence,” or CQ.

The CQ System is a simple yet powerful model for change leadership.

Let’s draw a distinction between change leadership and change management . . . CQ is about diagnosing and developing your capacity to lead change — in other words, it’s about change leadership. Change management, on the other hand, is a set of techniques that you, the change leaders, can apply to a change process.

As change leaders, we pick and choose the change management approaches and techniques to bring to bear on a change situation. CQ will help you as a change leader identity which change management tools you tend to gravitate toward based on your style — and which you may tend to overuse or, conversely, overlook.

Awareness, Acceptance, Adaptation, and Action

Change Intelligence emphasizes that we must “understand and change ourselves first” before we can “lead others to change;” and how this establishes the bridge from awareness to action.

When people talk about change, they often fixate on the need to “overcome resistance.” That puts the focus squarely on others — as if it’s the leader’s job to do something to or in spite of someone else. But it’s not others that stand between you and leading positive, pervasive change. We must understand and change ourselves first; only then can we lead others to change.

Actually, to correct myself, a subtle distinction: it’s not about changing ourselves, it’s about changing our behaviors. It’s about adapting our styles, not fundamentally changing who we are. It’s about remaining true to ourselves so we can become more effective as leaders. Change starts with awareness, moves to acceptance, and then continues to adaptation and action.

Change Intelligence emphasizes that there are many organizational transformation models and approaches, and its not that they are wrong or useless, but incomplete in that they don’t sufficiently focus on a change leader’s awareness of their leadership style and how it must be adapted to be optimally effective.

We know a lot about organizational transformation. For over two decades, authors have written hundreds of books on change management.

With all this knowledge and all these methodologies, why do 70 percent or more of major change initiatives fail? It’s not that any of these models or tools are wrong or useless — they’re just incomplete.

Successful transformations require more than book knowledge and theory, regardless of how sage and vetted the advice might be. To lead change, change leaders must know themselves.

Change intelligence, or CQ, is the awareness of one’s own change leadership style and the ability to adapt one’s style to be optimally effective in leading change across a variety of situations. [from “change as something we ‘do’ to others” to “change is something we do ‘with’ (or ‘for’) others”]

The CQ System I’ve developed enables change leaders to diagnose their change intelligence, equips them with applied developmental strategies, and shows them how to be powerful agents of transformation.

Leadership Tendencies

Change Intelligence emphasizes that change leaders have a basic leadership tendency (Heart, Head, and Hands).

The CQ Systems starts with the fact that each change leader has a basic tendency to lead with his or her Heart (Affective/heartset for “who”), Head (Cognitive/mindset for “why” and “what”), Hands (Behaviors/skillset for “how”), or some combination of the three. If you lead mainly from the Heart, you connect with people emotionally (I want it!). If you lead from the Head, you connect with people cognitively (I get it!). And if you lead from the Hands, you connect with people behaviorally (I can do it!). Depending on your natural inclination toward one of these, you have your own set of talents and areas to improve:

  • Leads Change from the Heart
    • Style: Engaging, caring, people-oriented
    • Strength: Motivating and supportive coach
    • Developmental Opportunities: May neglect to revisit overall change goals and not devote attention to the specific tactics of the change process
  • Leads Change from the Head
    • Style: Strategic, futuristic, purpose-oriented
    • Strength: Inspirational and big picture visionary
    • Developmental Opportunities: May leave others behind wanting to move sooner than people are ready for and lacking detailed planning and follow-through
  • Leads Change from the Hands
    • Style: Efficient, tactical, process-oriented
    • Strength: Playful and systematic executer
    • Developmental Opportunities: May lose sight of the big picture and devalue team dynamics and individuals’ emotions

It is not inherently better or worse to focus on the Heart or the Head or the Hands. However, the effectiveness of a change leadership style shifts in different scenarios depending on the type of change occurring, the business objective, the organizational culture, the people involved, and many other factors.

Of course, no one leads completely from the Heart, or Head, or Hands. Each of us is a blend of all three, and a small percentage of people do lead with all three with equal savvy. But most of us tend to rely primarily on one or two of these aspects as we lead through change.

Many people are unaware of their dominant aspect (or aspects), and of the impact their leadership style has on the change initiatives they lead. But the effect of how you lead during change is significant — overreliance on the Heart, Head, or Hands to the detriment of the other aspects can alienate the people around you and limit your success. Fortunately, we can all build our capacity to use all three aspects and adapt our change leadership style to be more effective in any situation.

As a psychologist, I know change starts with us as change leaders. and to lead change, we need all three tools in our tools bag: to start with the heart, engage with the brain, and help the hands so to get moving in positive, new directions.

The intent of this book is to help you become aware of your change leadership style, accept your strengths and weaknesses, and start to build your CQ to catalyze powerful change in your career, team, and organization.

Notice that leading with the Heart is people-oriented and involves motivating and supporting people.

Notice that leading with the Head is purpose-oriented and involves an inspirational perspective.

Notice that leading with the Hands is process-oriented and involves a systematic perspective.

Notice that the leadership tendencies are all necessary for success.

Leadership Styles

Change Intelligence emphasizes that the basic leadership tendencies (Heart, Head, and Hands) form a number of change leader styles where each style is a mix of these tendencies.

Of course, none of us leads only, all the time, in every instance with the Head or Heart or Hands. We are each a blend of all three. It is this unique combination that represents our change leader style.

Each style indicates a different mix of Head, Heart, and Hands:

  • If you’re a Coach, you’re all about Heart. You love engaging your colleagues whenever you get a chance, and you find great reward in supporting the people around you as you all move through a change process.
  • If you’re a Visionary, you are the one who’s always looking forward to an inspiring future. Thanks to your Head focus, you have a gift for seeing opportunity and planning for new situations, and you tend to get excited about what lies on the other side of a change.
  • If you’re an Executer, you focus primarily on the Hands. You like to get things done, and people know they can rely on you to not just talk but take action. Often your execution is backed up by comprehensive, step-by-step plans.
  • If you’re a Champion, you use a combined strength in Head and Heart to get people pumped about change. Like a Visionary, you see abundant possibilities for the future and, adding the people skills of a Coach to the mix, you’re able to energize and excite your colleagues as you all work to bring about change.
  • If you’re a Driver, you’re strong on both Head and Hands. You see an enticing vision before you, and you use your executional abilities to drive toward that vision, laying out clear strategies and tactics along the way.
  • If you’re a Facilitator, you focus on the specific people and specific activities you need to support on a day-to-day basis to lead the change, thanks to your strong Heart and Hands capabilities. You know the tasks that need to be accomplished to make measurable progress, and you succeed in motivating others to work together on those tasks.
  • If you’re an Adapter, you’re about even on Head, Heart, and Hands. You can employ all three approaches as necessary, and you’re generally flexible, politically savvy, and willing to collaborate with others.

[The figure] depicts the relationships between the seven change leader styles through their positions on a triangle.


Notice that the leadership styles form a integrated whole.

Change Intelligence further explores the leadership styles and their strengths and blind spots.

The Coach

  • The Coach’s Motto: To lead change, lead the people. Start with the heart.
  • Leaders with the Coach style of change leadership are defined by their orientation to people.

The Visionary

  • The Visionary’s Motto: Onward and upward toward new horizons! Another mountain to climb, another world to conquer!
  • The Visionary is a goal-directed leader who puts the vision, mission, and objectives of a change before all else.

The Executer

  • The Executer’s Motto: Plan the work and work the plan.
  • Executers are, above all, task focused.

The Champion

  • The Champion’s Motto: Together we can make it happen.
  • Champions excel at rallying people around a change goal.

The Driver

  • The Driver’s Motto: Just do it! Get’er done!
  • Drivers are all about results — they hunger to achieve the objectives of the change initiative.

The Facilitator

  • The Facilitator’s motto: I’m here to help! Lean on me.
  • Facilitators excel at Heart and Hands, and some say this is the best of all possible combinations, because they emphasize both task and process — they make change happen and care about how it happens.

The Adapter

  • The Adapter’s Motto: It looks exciting. Let’s all try it!
  • Adapters exist at the crossroads between Head, Heart, and Hands.


Notice that the leadership styles integrate the Heart or people, Head or purpose, and Hands or process.

Conscious Agility

Conscious Agility — which emerges from Conscious Capitalism, Business Agility, and Antifragility and our individual and collective experience fully rooted in decades of practice across many industry domains — is a design-thinking approach for business ecosystems that integrates awareness with intuition, orientation, and improvisation so that individuals and collectives may benefit from uncertainty, disorder, and the unknown.

See Conscious Agility: A Brief Introduction for more information.

Change Intelligence and Conscious Agility

Conscious Agility’s Stakeholders generally relates to Change Intelligence’s Heart (people), Conscious Agility’s notion of stakeholders “being a part of an ecosystem” generally relates to Change Intelligence’s Head (being and purpose), and Conscious Agility’s notion of stakeholders “doing something within the ecosystem” generally relates to Change Intelligence’s Hands (doing and process). Furthermore, Conscious Agility stresses that “stakeholder identity is central to how stakeholders are being a part of an ecosystem and doing something within the ecosystem” and that “identity encapsulates awareness and ownership”. Conscious Agility’s notion of identity relates to Change Intelligence’s awareness, acceptance, adaptation, and action.

Conscious Agility’s Define phase “Discover a ‘minimal’ Ecosystem Definition” conversation cluster focuses on Change Intelligence‘s leadership tendencies (Heart, Head, and Hands). Furthermore, throughout Conscious Agility’s Define, Create, and Refine phases, the Design Team of catalysts (among others) use the leadership styles.

Conscious Agility’s Create phase “Enact Experiences” conversation cluster focuses on Change Intelligence’s Heart and Hands leadership tendencies — that is, bridging between people and process, or fostering people’s awareness of process through action.

Conscious Agility’s Create phase “Integrate Stakeholders” conversation cluster focuses on Change Intelligence’s Heart and Head leadership tendencies — that is, bridging between people and purpose, or fostering people’s awareness of purpose through action.

Conscious Agility’s Refine phase “Embrace Experiences” conversation cluster focuses on Change Intelligence’s Heart and Hands leadership tendencies — that is, ensuring the bridging between people and process after considering purpose.

Conscious Agility’s Refine phase “Nurture Stakeholders” conversation cluster focuses on Change Intelligence‘s Heart and Head leadership tendencies — that is, ensuring the bridging between people and purpose after considering process.

Conscious Agility’s secret ingredient is to be “agnostic and embrace an all-inclusive viewpoint, integrating relevant perspectives yet keeping the ‘human element’ paramount” — all discovered in practice.

Fundamentally, Change Intelligence and Conscious Agility are readily aligned around core concepts and human nature — and are both discovered in practice!

Highly encourage all “practitioners” in this space to visit and to learn more!


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s