Why Great Leaders Understand The 6 Levels of Change

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Why Great Leaders Understand The 6 Levels of Change

Employees around the globe are reporting that change is a constant in organisations today, and while the focus may currently be on how technology is driving change mainly through artificial intelligence, the reality is different. 

Change is happening at an unprecedented pace due to mergers and acquisitions, leadership transitions, which is frequently followed by restructuring. Add to this, regulatory changes 
and how politics is influencing and impacting business, it’s easy to understand why employees feel 
‘big’ change is affecting their day to day working lives at many different levels.  

Mckinsey reports that 70% of change management programs fail so we know that leading change isn’t easy. However, when a leader understands the different levels of change that are happening in their organisation, they can plan and prepare to lead the change in a way that sets their organisation up to be part of the 30% of change programs that succeed. 

In this twopart article, we share the six levels of change that great leaders take time to understand.


What Are The 6 Levels Of Change?



Robert Dilts is an organisational psychologist who has researched change and organisational learning. His research demonstrated that:  

  • Change occurs at multiple levels in organisations (he identified 6); 
  • For change to be sustainable, it needs to happen and be supported at more than one level; 
  • When change occurs at a lower level, it is generally found that results are less sustainable what do people say, “A leopard never changes its spots” and “Old habits die hard!”; 
  • A leader can often identify what level a person or teameven an organisation, is at by the nature of conversations people have, the questions being asked and the language 
    employees use. 

The levels are as follows – Low to High

  • Environment 
  • Behaviour 
  • Capability 
  • Values and Beliefs 
  • Identity 
  • Purpose 

Lets take a closer look at each level and what they refer to in an organisational context. 





Here you can think about things such as the office environment that your teams work in, remembering that for virtual colleagues this could mean working from home, a local office hot desk
or at times a café or local business centre with work stations. 

Also, consider the environments of your different clients. The environment influences how people work.  

Today, we are so familiar with open plan offices. This hasn’t always been the case. Pre the “noughties”, if you worked in an office, it was highly likely that you would have your own office. The downside was that colleagues didn’t communicate and departments were even more siloed than they can be today.  Moving toward openplan offices encouraged communication and collaboration.

Ironically, recent research shows that large open plan offices are now impacting productivity as the number of distractions is so great.

The point here is: make changes to a persons work environment, and it can change their results.



This corresponds to what you are doing. Remember those early days as a leader when you thought you had to have the answer to all your teams questions? Then you realised you were being asked the same questions 6 months later. It was only when you stopped answering their questions and started coaching them using indirect questions that your team started coming up with their own ideas!

Change what you are doing, and you get a different result.





The simplest way to think about capability is ‘how well a person does a behaviour’. 

When you first became a manager, some of you will have found it so easy telling your team what to do. However, when it came to coaching and asking questions, that wasn’t so easy, was it? You could understand why your team wouldn’t just do what you did; after all, you were so successful!
Over time though, you mastered the skill of asking great open questions. 

Conversely, others reading this will have found coaching and asking some great questions a breeze. 
However, there were times when you needed to step up and to be direct, and that didn’t come so naturally. For you, being more directional was something you had to learn, and now you can easily move between the two leadership styles with ease. 

Both are examples of how each leader has developed their capabilities over time.  

What Robert Dilts explains in his research is that it isn’t just about the skills a person has, but how we use our brains that is importantOnly when we choose to use our brain can we develop our capability to use a skill, which in turn will result in changing our behaviours.  

In part two of this article, we’ll take a look at the 3 deeper levels of change: Values and BeliefsIdentity and Purpose. 

For now, take some time and reflect on 

  • What are some of the challenges your team are currently facing? 
  • At an individual team member level, what are they dealing with 

Then consider which of these challenges relate to either or more than one of the three levels described so far. The next step is to read part two and discover how you can take your understanding of the six levels and support your team to make the changes that will result in greater success. 

Until next time. 





About blue pea POD 

At blue pea POD, we are in the business of enabling leaders and organisations understand who they are, their identity and purpose, creating the profitable future they desire now.   

Blue Pea POD works internationally with a client base that includes the FMCG, Retail, and Pharmaceuticals sectors. You can subscribe to our podcast here and then if you would like to find out more about how we can help you get in contact here. Or call +44(0) 845 123 1280 

2019-10-30T15:21:53+00:00By |Leadership, Podcast|
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