KingChapman Blog

Leadership Commitment to Charters Key to Transformational Change

Posted by Bob Chapman on Mar 14, 2017 7:08:00 AM


There is an ever-increasing demand today for transformational leaders. The rapid evolution of disruptive business models and technologies combined with intense global competition is producing this demand. The need for transformational change leaders who can use breakthrough designs to create sustainable growth strategies and execute transformational change is much larger than the supply. This has created a “gap” inside many organizations which requires leadership commitment to fill. Boards of Directors and executives are looking for ways to develop transformational change leaders within their companies like never before.

We at KingChapman have demonstrated methods for rapidly developing transformational leaders at many levels of an organization. We find that the best approach to developing these leaders combines creating and leading a Breakthrough Project in their organization with active participation in courses on Transformational Leadership. The act of creating the Charter for the Breakthrough Project is often the pivotal moment, both in forming the project and in participation in the leadership course.

Change Leaders vs. Change Managers

Most companies have change managers, who have been trained in using change management techniques. John Kotter says that the basic design of change management to control change initiatives. Change leadership is designed to create fundamental changes, which produce extraordinary results and transforms organizational culture. Change management methods are appropriate for incremental changes in one function or group in which the primary concern is maintaining control and stability. Change management methods are not appropriate for the bolder, bigger changes which many organizations today must implement, whether they are ready or not. The training and tools in change management were simply not designed for use in transformational change. The lack of appreciation for the differences in change leadership and change management is a key factor in the high failure rate of strategic execution and organizational transformations projects.

Change Leaders have quite different skill sets, which are designed to accelerate organizational accountability while implementing projects based on breakthrough designs. These actions produce extraordinary business results, intense employee engagement and transforms the organizational culture. Developing change leaders is a huge challenge facing companies today. The exponential expansion and growth of organizations has contributed to this. This growth has seemingly taken place so quickly that it has surpassed the organization’s ability to look within its ranks and develop potential leaders from within as the organization grows.

Charters & Developing Transformational Change Leadership

We believe the best approach for accelerated leadership development is the blend of active leadership of a breakthrough project with course work on leadership in organizational transformation. This blend makes the experience powerful, as the person learns what is required to create breakthroughs inside her or his company. An important building block in learning to lead transformation is the creation of a Charter for breakthrough projects, which is used as part of the coursework and leadership development. The Charter creates the breakthrough project(s). The Charter is written from the perspective of a future in which extraordinary results have been achieved. Success in accomplishing these results is the foundation of the Charter. The Charter articulates what shall be, and is comprised of a statement of purpose, outcomes, scope, constraints, key people, key processes and milestones.

Let’s look at how Charters play an important role in what we consider to be the six components of transformational leadership:

  1. Personal commitment to be a transformational change leader – Being a leader in transformational change is challenging, hard work. The process of creating the Charter for the transformation bring additional clarity to the leader regarding her/his personal commitment. This is important since personal commitment is the bedrock for organizational transformation. When the change leader’s commitments are clearly expressed, it provides a platform for dealing with the predictable complaints, criticism, and negative reactions from colleagues and others in the organization. The leader’s personal commitments must be bigger than the resistance if transformation is to be achieved
  2. Creating a Compelling Future – Transformational Leaders invent a compelling future which will replace the existing default future, since the default future is based in the past. Success in transformational change requires a new, future which is compelling and will inspire the creative energy of many in the organization. A well written Charter usually takes multiple iterations. Each interaction brings clarity on a future which is invented, rather than extension of the past. Often the initial attempts at crafting a compelling future fall into dealing with issues and problems from the past, rather than the future.

  3. Setting aspirational goals and strategies based on the compelling future – Once a future is established, then the strategic thinking required to envision breakthrough projects is possible. Leaders establish aspirational goals which can be seen to emanate from the Invented Future. These goals, if attained, will indicate success in achieving the Invented Future. Even better, these aspirational goals inspire people to seek breakthroughs and transformation. From this point, developing the Charter is readily done.
  4. Execution of strategies – They create a strong sense of urgency and engage a core of leaders in execution of initiatives which engages large numbers of employees in breakthrough and organizational transformation. 

  5. Engaging hearts and minds during execution – Transforming organizations depends on winning the hearts and minds of employees and other stakeholders. Winning the hearts is often based on articulating values which are the basis for transformation. In addition, transformational change leaders act in ways which infuses the organizations values into heart of the culture. The values guide decisions and actions. The culture continues to evolve in ways which supports agility, creativity, continuous improvement and extraordinary products and services for customers
  6. Inspiration followed by more inspiration – There will be failures, let downs and mistakes along the way, which are essential for success in transformation. Maintaining focus and sustaining momentum toward completing the transformational changes required ongoing inspiration of people throughout the organization.

Charters are an important tool for change leaders engaged in strategic execution and organizational transformation. Developing Charters assists leaders in clarifying strategic thinking and establishing breakthrough projects as the core of strategic execution. When this practical experience is combined with coursework on organizational transformation, rapid development of change leaders occurs.


Is your organization seeking ways to rapidly develop change leaders? Using Charters to create breakthrough projects is an excellent tool in an overall leadership development effort. 

book_7elementsfor.jpgLeadership experiments can lead to breakthroughs in your organization. To learn how to plan breakthrough projects, download our white paper "7 Elements for Chartering a Breakthrough Project".

In it you will learn:

  • what a 'Breakthrough Project' is and why it's critical to organizational transformation
  • why creating a 'charter' is a critical step in the process
  • the critical roles that key people must play in the project to enhance success

Download Now


Topics: Leading Breakthroughs