Project Management Institute

You know your IQ, but what's your CQ®?

develop your change intelligence® to lead successful and sustainable transformation and results

Clarence Trowbridge, MBA, Training Manager, Wells Enterprises


You've heard of “IQ” — raw “intellectual” intelligence. You've heard of “EQ” — emotional intelligence. Yet, what about “CQ®” — change intelligence®? Change is the only constant. Reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, and job transitions — the modern workplace is replete with never-ending, dizzying changes.

Yet, so many changes fail to achieve their lofty goals. According to various estimates, as many as 70% or more of change efforts fall short of expectations. With so much experience with change, what have we learned?

We know that to boost EQ we need to bolster skill in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management — to know oneself and to play well with others. What are the critical aspects of CQ to catalyze positive, powerful change?

The CQ System for Developing Change Intelligent Individuals and Organizations is based on decades of partnering with clients, ranging from steel mills to sales teams, refineries to retail outlets, and healthcare to high tech to lead organizational, team, and personal transformations; years of conducting global research spanning from America to Australia, Canada to the Congo, and Italy to India on managing change; and study into the psychology and neuroscience of change.

As a leader…

  • Is your organization struggling in the current economy, forced to make tough business decisions that are unwanted, undeserved, or involuntary?
  • Are you tired of the “Program of the Year” and want to know how to make change stick?
  • Are you frustrated in your inability to overcome resistance to new ways of working?

If so, read on to learn how to build your CQ for yourself, you team, and your organization.

What is CQ (Change Intelligence)?

CQ (Change Intelligence) is the awareness of one's own Change Leadership
and the ability to adapt one's style to be optimally effective in leading change
across a variety of people and situations.

The Heart, Head, and Hands of CQ — Your Heartset, Mindset, and Skillset as a Change Leader

We each have our own unique Change Leadership Style. Our style is comprised of our tendencies to lead with our heart versus our head versus our hands. Powerful Change Leaders “start with the heart,” “engage the brain,” and “help the hands” move in positive new directions.

  Leading Change from the Heart Leading Change from the Head Leading Change from the Hands
Change Leader Style Defined Engaging, Caring, People-Oriented Change Leader Strategic, Futuristic, Purpose-Oriented Change Leader Efficient, Tactical, Process-Oriented Change Leader
Strengths Motivating and supportive coach Inspirational and big picture visionary Planning and systematic executer
Developmental Opportunities May neglect to revisit overall change goals and not devote attention to the specific tactics of the change process May leave others behind, wanting to move sooner than people are ready and lack detailed planning and follow-through May lose sight of the “big picture” and devalue team dynamics and individual emotions

Some Change Leaders have a dominant tendency, and others focus equally on two or even all three components. The most powerful Change Leaders have all three tools in their tool bag, skill in using the tools, and the savvy to deploy the right tools in the right situation. That's CQ! By building Change Intelligence, Change Leaders are able to overcome what looks like resistance, but is really either confusion over the goal (no “Head”), lack of connection to the goal (no “Heart”), or lack of tactics and training to partner together to work toward the goal (no “Hands”).

CQ in Action — for Individual Change Leaders

To paint a picture of what CQ is and why it's vital, here is the “Tale of Three Change Leaders.” The names have been changed, but other than that, the stories are all true. See if you can see yourself or others you know in the examples.

First, meet Glen. Glen was a manufacturing executive, well-respected for his turnaround abilities. He was the CEO of a plant that had just been acquired by a new company. The plant had been shut down for two years, and a few hundred of the original several thousand person workforce was brought back to restart the facility.

Glen was a visionary — he was inspirational in communicating the future goals and big picture business objectives. However, although he was really smart, he left his people behind. Although he saw clearly in his own mind how to get from here to there — from decrepit and aged to high tech and competitive — his people were confused. And isn't that what often happens – what seems like resistance is really confusion? His people thirsted for guidance, because they did not want to be unemployed for two years again, and the plant was the only game in town. And that was the other thing Glen was blind to: the emotional needs of his people. There was so much fear. People had lost their jobs; they desperately didn't want to lose them again. Yet, when Glen barked orders wanting to know why things weren't happening fast enough, people would shut down, afraid to tell the emperor he had no clothes – that he never gave them the plan or training to empower them to bring the vision to life.

That's what our coaching centered around. Glen was “stuck in his head,” and needed to augment the head with the heart and hands – working through people's fears, and giving them the skills to partner on the journey.

Second, meet James – who, conversely, was “high heart.” James was a nursing supervisor in a hospital's intensive care unit. James was a highly respected and caring nurse, passionately committed to the hospital, the clinicians, and the patients. He spoke eloquently, sharing moving stories about serving patients and their families. He dreamed about overcoming the traditional silos dividing physicians, nursing, and administration.

However, while others were moved by his words and inspired by his passion, he was frustrated that no one seemed to be working with him to get from here to there. The administration seemed more focused on cost-cutting, the physicians on building their own practices, and the nurses on resisting new cost-cutting programs and complaining about physician arrogance. Where was the team? Who was focusing on being of service to the patients?

What James needed was to supplement his strong ability to focus on the heart – to personally connect with people emotionally – with a focus on the head – providing the business case that made financial sense – as well as a plan – what does it mean in specific, day-to-day behaviors to break down walls and transition to a new way of working together? This was the focus of our work together. James was able to translate his motivating message into a plan and process that engaged his manager and was successfully cascaded through the ranks.

And third, meet Ann – high “hands.” Ann was an exceptional project manager who was given the opportunity to lead a large-scale IT systems implementation for the sales team of her global consumer products firm. Ann brought all the project management tools in her tool bag to bear on her new assignment. She laid out a clever SWAT team–like approach, consisting of a small team of highly trained CRM experts to rotate to each sales team around the country, who spent a day training the sales professionals, and then went on to the next. I call this the “sprinkling magic dust” approach to change management. Sounds great on paper, doesn't it? Cost-effective, good use of resources, a “leveraged plan.” But it's the thinking that led to that old joke about consultants: why consultants are like seagulls: they swoop in, eat your food, poop on you, and fly away – leaving a mess behind.

What Ann was missing is that, while great planning is an important part of any great change effort, it's only part of the equation. Sure, she was savvy at providing people with lots of tactical tools – a roadmap, milestones, timeframes, and accountabilities. Yet, people were totally unprepared for the change. Why was it happening? How is it going to impact me? The company was a sales leader in their market, so people saw no competitive pressure to change and had always been told they were doing a great job. Clearly, my coaching with Ann focused on helping her move beyond a “heavy-handed” (or “hand-heavy”) “change by checklist” approach and integrating the head and heart.

What lessons learned can we draw from these three tales from the field? Each change leader had one of the ingredients, but was missing the entire recipe for successful change. By adding the missing ingredients, they were able to overcome what looked like resistance, but was really either confusion over the goal, lack of connection to the goal, or lack of training and tools to partner together to work toward the goal.

So many leaders are like Glen, James, and Ann. They keep doing things the same way, expecting a different result, which is the definition of insanity. They expected their people to change, but not themselves, or at least not their own change leadership style. As a psychologist, I know change starts with us – and to lead change, we need all three tools in our tool bag: to engage the brain, inspire the heart, and help the hands to get people moving in positive, new directions. That's CQ!

Eisenhower said that “leadership is the art of getting people to do what you want done because they want to do it.” Giving people the big picture vision, the tactical plan, and the personal connection motivates others to transition toward positive change.

The Change Leader Styles

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. There are seven possible styles, depending on how strong you are on heart, head, and hands. (To learn your style, take the CQ/Change Intelligence Assessment available in the book, Change Intelligence; see the Recommended Reading List.)

  • 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 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 a 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 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. This may seem like the ideal style — and it does indeed have great benefits — but at times Adapters can confuse others with their change-ability, may be too apt to sub-optimize with compromise decisions, and seem overly politically motivated.

The relationship between the seven styles can be represented as a triangle, which, incidentally, is also the Greek symbol for change, depicted in Exhibit 1.

The Seven Change Leader Styles

Exhibit 1 – The Seven Change Leader Styles

CQ for Teams and Organizations

The Change Challenge

Now we will transition our discussion to talk about CQ at the team and organizational levels. To do so, we will use the case study of a major change project in an industrial setting.

The client involved is a 2500-person, 100-year-old family-owned ice cream manufacturer. The company was doing very well financially — everyone likes ice cream, even in a down economy. They had a strategic plan to double in size within ten years.

To meet this ambitious goal, the company's executive team knew it needed to vastly improve its approach to learning and development. While sophisticated in terms of some of its systems, there was nothing resembling a best practice approach to training, particularly technical training at the operational level in the plants. Instead, supervisors relied on “tribal knowledge” passed down across generations of workers to train new personnel. That had worked in the past, but would not be effective with the projected rapid influx of new personnel due to the expansion, as well as due to the need to relocate many of the best supervisors and technicians to integrate new acquisitions.

Therefore, the executive team chartered a “Learning and Development Core Team” (CT) to design a solution, overseen by a “Learning and Development Steering Committee” (SC) to sponsor the effort and approve the final plan.

Using CQ to Set the Teams Up for Success

To launch the CT and SC, the authors (the consultant and project manager) conducted a workshop to enable the team members to diagnose their CQ and develop a plan to bolster their collective Change Intelligence, to equip them to partner to design a world class learning solution.

The workshop was revealing. The company had a history of, as they said: a “flavor of the month,” not just in terms of ice cream, but also in terms of project management. They had great ideas and created great plans, but struggled to implement and sustain change.

What the teams learned is that the SC — executives — was comprised mostly of Visionaries — very strong on “head” skills, focusing on vision and strategy. And the CT — plant supervisors and human resource professionals — consisted of mostly Coaches, high on “heart” skills, focusing on engaging and communicating. The SC saw that, although they very frequently leveraged their strengths (as was evident by the goal to double in size) they also at times fell prey to their blind spot, moving on to the next exciting initiative before the current one was fully implemented, taking their eye off the ball, leaving the old project to flounder for lack of champions.

The CT saw that they also were savvy in deploying their strengths — the company had a true family culture at all levels, living their value of participation in major decisions and including all voices. However, at times this strength could be overdone, resulting in poor results; supervisors at times hesitated to hold people accountable to new, demanding expectations for fear of damaging relationships, and staff support personnel, such as those in HR, at times shied away from strongly influencing without authority for fear of “rocking the boat.” In times of change, we need the heart focus. Yet, part of any change is moving people out of their comfort zones and challenging them to stretch in new ways, and this can be difficult for Coaches. Therefore, while well-designed and intended, new initiatives failed due to lack of strong, decisive leadership on the floor level.

Additionally, both groups recognized that there were few if any Executers: people with a strong “hands” orientation — planners, organized, and efficient. Indeed the “flavor of the month” phenomenon often boils down to a failure of execution — great strategy, great involvement, no or faulty implementation.

Having a new project manager with a Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential was a huge boost to the L&D initiative and was to lay a great foundation for future projects in the company. The teams recognized that they needed to compensate for their missing skill set/focus area by adopting a structured project planning methodology. Therefore, the teams set themselves up powerfully for success. They gained self-knowledge, built relationships between team members, and crafted an action plan.

A Change-Intelligent Course Correction

About four months into the project, disconnects between the SC and CT began to emerge, impacting the project. The CT was frustrated that the SC did not appear to adequately resource the project. The SC was frustrated by lack of progress. The project manager interfaced between both groups, and recognized the need for a joint session.

At the session, the project manager encouraged the team to revisit their CQ profiles. Again, another enlightening discussion ensued, resulting in actionable insights. The SC acknowledged that several of the members had been traveling frequently to assess potential new acquisitions, had missed several L&D meetings, and had caused the process to stall. However, they also stated their disappointment that, although he CT had made requests, they hadn't backed them up with a solid business plan to justify proposed investments in new technology, such as an LMS and new roles such as training coordinators.

The CT realized that when making their resource requests, they had not “spoken in the business language” of the executives. To them, the need was so obvious, but they had not enlisted the appropriate financial or IT personnel to help them explain the expenses. And they were “being nice” — reticent to “influence up” and hold their executives on the SC accountable to giving them feedback in a timely manner, even in the midst of their other critical accountabilities.

Both groups learned the Platinum Rule that day. The Golden Rule, of course, is “do onto others as you want done onto.” The Platinum Rule is a slight twist on this rule: “do onto others as THEY want to be done onto.” As leaders, we are a lot more effective — and less stressed — when we communicate and connect with others in ways that work for them: speaking in business metrics to executives, taking time to engage on the floor level and giving others what they need to be successful, so that we can all win together.

Going forward, the L&D teams made important new commitments that day, and agreed to utilize additional project management tools (e.g., Scorecards and Communication Plans) to guide their efforts and foster mutual accountability.

Case Study Results

So what happened? In 14 months, the SC and the CT were successful in:

  • Developing and implementing operator training programs for every production line in the enterprise.
  • Installing a new qualification process that provides a high level of assurance of employee competency.

In a company that traditionally “starts strong” but too often lacks follow-through and sustained activity, the SC and CT were able to manage a portfolio of training projects to their conclusion.

And, the teams are currently embedding a new computer-based training platform to provide improved efficiencies for the delivery of training.

These significant achievements, and others, were possible because the SC and the CT paid close attention to the “head,” “heart,” and “hands” during the execution of the training projects. The SC members were naturally strong on “head” and were effective in identifying and communicating the strategy, and the CT members were naturally strong on “heart” and were effective in helping employees to understand the why and the “what's in it for them.” Both teams were somewhat short on “hands,” and were not immediately effective in defining the project plans and resources needed to achieve the SC‘s challenging agenda. The development and use of strong project plans, and the alignment of these plans with each other and with the activities of the manufacturing organization, proved to be the key element for the success of the overall effort.

What's Your CQ?

By now, you probably have some idea of your own CQ. Here are two tips to get you started diagnosing your own CQ:

First, engage in self-reflection. Do you tend to lead with the head: the big picture goal, the business objectives? Or the heart: personally connecting with your people at an emotional level? Or the hands: giving them the tactical tools, skills, and a detailed path forward?

Second, what's missing from your Change Leadership style? Observe your people.

  • Are they working really hard, but their efforts are misplaced? Then add more “head” – clarify the target – the “what” and “why” of the change.
  • Are they unmotivated, indifferent, or even afraid? Then add more “heart” – share your own story, build trust, and show what's in it for all of us working together as a team.
  • Or, are your people paralyzed, like deer in the headlights, and can't seem to get unstuck and into effective action? Sounds like they need a heavy dose of “hands” – a plan, process, and skill building to guide their efforts through the change.

Based on your self-analysis, here are some tips and tools to jump start developing your CQ:

Head/Mindset: People need to understand the change that is needed – the business case, the bottom line metrics – the “what.” If they don't – chaos and confusion will result. Ask yourself:

  • Have I created and communicated a compelling vision, business case, and plan for change?
  • Have I painted the picture so others can dream the dream?

Heart/Heartset: People need to believe in the change – the sense of urgency, the emotional commitment – the “why.” If they don't – the best result will be passionless compliance and the worst demotivated resignation. Ask yourself:

  • Have I engaged people in the change beyond the intellectual level – made the personal, emotional appeal?
  • Am I continually listening, giving and receiving honest feedback, and keeping a finger on the pulse of the human side of the transition?

Hands/Skillset: People need to know how to act consistently with the change, to have the skills and knowledge to do the right thing – the “how.” If they don't, what may appear as resistance may, in fact, be fear and frustration. Ask yourself:

  • Do people know what to do? Have I made the parts they are to play and expectations for deliverables clear?
  • Have I provided the training and other developmental experiences people need to build new competencies? Have I coached people to feel confident and empowered?
  • Have I provided the resources and removed the barriers standing in their way to make them successful?
  • These are the kind of conversations we facilitate with leaders at all levels to their build their Change Intelligence®, overcome resistance, and make change stick.

Remember that, depending on the circumstances, sometimes we lead in one way and sometimes in another. No style is better or worse, right or wrong. However, at any given time one style may be more effective in leading change. Awareness of our style can help us adapt to different people and situations and ultimately take action to become more powerful change leaders.

The most effective change leaders — project managers, program managers, and portfolio managers — are aware of their Change Leadership style, to accept their strengths and developmental areas, and to get into action to build CQ to catalyze powerful change in their careers, teams, and organizations. As you build your mindset, heartset, and skillset, you will become more savvy and adept at selecting the right tools for the right situation, thereby bolstering your effectiveness as a Change Leader.

Concluding Thoughts

Utilizing Change Intelligence and sound project management tools, the SC and the CT were able to develop and implement enterprise-wide training processes that are now instrumental in preparing the company for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

These efforts demonstrate the natural and powerful support that the concepts of Change Intelligence offers to project management. For example, it is not that the SC and CT members did not already have project management tools and processes at their disposal, what they lacked was a tool and process for leveraging the various strengths that each possessed, and for understanding and mitigating the imbalance of change intelligence styles in their efforts. Every organization has exactly this dilemma. Every project has exactly this dilemma. Change Intelligence offers to the project management community, and to you, a new opportunity and a new tool for you to use to support your success.

Keller, S., & Aiken, C. (2008). The Inconvenient Truth about Leading Change. McKinsey Quarterly. Boston, MA: McKinsey and Company.

Kotter, J. (1995, March-April). Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail. Harvard Business Review. Boston, MA: Harvard University Press.

Maurer, R. (2010). Beyond the Wall of Resistance, Austin, TX: Bard Press.

Nelson, K., & Aaron, S. (2005). The Change Management Pocket Guide. Cincinnati, OH: Change Guides.

Rock, D., & Schwartz, J. (2006, Summer). The Neuroscience of Leadership. Strategy and Business, 43.

Trautlein, B. A. (2013). Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

©Barbara A. Trautlein and Clarence Trowbridge, 2013
Originally Published as part of 2013 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – New Orleans, Louisiana



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