Top managers face the greatest challenges in the context of change. Everyone looks at those ‘at the top’ and judges the actions of the powerful every day. Even small symbolic acts have a big effect. Do the management or the manager boards succeed in breaking out of the confines of their roles and manage to be authentic role models for upcoming developments? The following five approaches to good change management help to achieve this:

1. Provide orientation with a few clear principles and visions of the future. Communicate these so often that you are sick of them yourself, thereby constantly collecting authentic feedback on how your own behavior is perceived by the environment.

2. Set boundaries for change and give change designers maximum freedom within those boundaries. Step back as a detail decision maker in the context of pending decisions as long as no fundamental principles are threatened. If the latter is the case, intervene even more strongly.

3. Try to learn personally whenever you have the chance. This requires managers to permanently look in the mirror and create an environment where feedback is given honestly and where strong characters instead of ‘yea-sayers’ are pulling the strings.

4. Get out to the places where change is taking place – this is called ‘going to Gemba’ in agile working methods, i.e. people don’t report by means of fancy PowerPoint presentations, but top managers come to the working environments of the teams and learn what there is to decide through stories and dialog.

5. It is about feeling responsible for a positive atmosphere. This means being frank about hot topics and ‘sacred cows’ while publicly expressing appreciation, valuing first results and brave experiments, thus ensuring the required confidence.


  1. Completely reorganize your next control group meeting. Ban PowerPoint presentations, request stories instead and go to your employees instead of having them come to you.
  2. Disregarding classic hierarchies, invite five people that you think are highly dedicated, critical and open-minded and openly talk with them about the ongoing change project and their own effect on it.
  3. Formulate an assignment as a ‘challenging question’ to which a team is supposed to work out independent answers within boundaries defined by you. With this, you trigger creativity, ambition and solution-finding energy among your staff.