7 Essential Skills for Managing Change

Managing change

It’s a cliché, but change has always been the only constant. With the fast-paced nature of today’s world, the importance of managing change has grown significantly. Whether it’s in your career, relationships, or life in general, learning how to manage change successfully is a must.

Key Principles for Managing Change

Here are three ways successful change leaders excel in change management:

1. A high ambiguity threshold

Change is inherently ambiguous. People who are effective in managing change demonstrate a high tolerance for uncertainty and the ability to deal with ‘shades of gray.’

2. A constructive internal monologue

Those who manage change well have a constructive internal monologue. They view themselves as capable of influencing aspects of the situations they face. While not everything can be changed, your response is always a choice. Focusing on your sphere of influence helps you better manage change.

3. Emotional, physical, and mental resilience

A solid reservoir of emotional, physical, and mental energy is essential for dealing with tough times. This reservoir is particularly important when managing change effectively.

Skills for Managing Change

While innate abilities can contribute to your effectiveness in managing change, there are skills that can be developed. Here are seven strategies:

1. Spend time reflecting on your own core values

A sense of purpose is essential to success and effectiveness, and those without a clear idea of what they are doing and why they are doing it will not have the foundation to keep going in the face of change.

2. Be persistent

Managing change is rarely straightforward. The key to success often lies in tenacity rather than genius. Being persistent helps you adapt to and manage changes more efficiently.

3. Be flexible and creative

Be flexible and creative in your approaches. When one method doesn’t work, switch gears. Adaptability is a vital skill in change management.

4. Think outside the Box

Read widely, and don’t confine yourself to your own area of expertise. Try to see links between apparently separate and diverse elements in your life and experience.

5. Accept uncertainty and be optimistic

Embrace uncertainty and focus on positive outcomes. Managing change successfully involves not wasting energy on negativity but directing it toward potential solutions.

6. Stay fit and healthy

Maintaining good physical health can significantly aid in managing change. Exercise, good nutrition, and sleep are not luxuries but necessities when dealing with change.

7. See the big picture

Always keep the larger context in view. A bird’s-eye perspective will make the inevitable changes less disorienting, helping you manage change more effectively.


In a world characterized by relentless shifts and transformations, the art of managing change isn’t just a skill—it’s a necessity. By understanding the core principles of change and embracing practical strategies, you can navigate through life’s complexities with resilience and grace.

Remember, change isn’t an enemy to be feared but an opportunity to grow, innovate, and reinvent. As you cultivate these seven essential skills, you’ll not only find yourself managing change more effectively but also turning challenges into stepping stones toward greater success.

24 thoughts on “7 Essential Skills for Managing Change”

  1. 2. Skillful managers of change will have a constructive ‘internal monologue.’

    I love the way you put this! Our self talk is so important in life as change is inevitable. The whole list is great stuff, Peter. I good read for me in my current circumstances. I guess it was ‘timely’ as many say. :-) Eric.

  2. I definitely agree with Michael that managing change begins with managing your own thoughts, feelings and reactions to change. Our natural instinct is to fear change, which leads us to make fear-based decisions in the face of change.

    Learning to accept and even embrace change as a way of creating positive opportunities in your life puts you much more in line with responding in empowering ways to those changes.

  3. It is very important to think outside the box and be creative/flexible. This allows you to continuously progress and evolve. It allows you to change for the better. Change is great!

  4. You’ve touched on the most important aspects of change and dealing with it. My favorite is the high ambiguity threshold. When I took a photography class the prof pointed out that photos we call black and white actually have about 18% gray.

    As soon as we get comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty, we are ready to embrace success and happiness.

  5. Michael,

    Thank you for this article. Change is, of course, inevitable and ever-happening. But recent events mean there are many many people whose lives are being thrown into disarray.

    I like all your points, but the one that stands out to me is “#5: Accept uncertainty and be optimistic”. I don’t know about other people, but for me changes that initially appear to be bad often work out in my favor.

  6. Number 6 is key: stay healthy and fit.

    I have a more difficult time coping with change on days when I didn’t sleep well the night before or I missed my morning walk. Change takes a lot of energy.

  7. Great suggestions, Mark! I find that the value of persistence is often overlooked, but the ability to return, and continue returning to what we’re trying to accomplish is so important. So often we give up at the first failure, or even at the first lull, when the newness has worn off and what we’re trying to do gets hard.


  8. The most important is the “Will to Change” and than comes No.2 ” Be persistant” its like drop after drop of water falling on rock, making a dent the change.

    And Number 3.”Be Flexible and Creative”, if you have the opportunity try adopting different options. Sure way towards light!!!

    A deadly combination.

  9. Everybody is changing, all the time. We do have the ability to ignore this fact and so we live in a “smaller” world. Its not that some people don’t or can’t change, its just that some people can’t notice that they do.

    We can support each other by witnessing each others change and observing and approving of growth in its different forms.

  10. I really like the reflecting on our values and mission in life. It’s so important to know what we are about. That will inform how we respond to change that happens to us or that we voluntarily create. Without knowing our values and mission we’re adrift and subject to the winds that can blow us about. Knowing them we can help us navigate through change and be flexible as we’ve got a bigger sense of what we’re about.

  11. Funny to find your blog. I was trying to fall asleep, but was thinking about how infrequently I change my mind. I googled, “How do you change your mind?” and found that you asked the same question. I am very curious as to your thoughts about how a person changes their mind about their self-concept (often imprinted in childhood with many years of “evidence” piled on)? Our minds seem very protective of our beliefs as to ourselves. Is the psychology/mechanics of changing dependent on circumstance (what to wear versus who I am). You all seem well versed in change, so your thoughts will be very much appreciated.

  12. change sometimes instigates fear, because of the uncertainty.
    yet, we need to throw that fear away
    and embrace the uncertainty, esp when we know the change is for the better

  13. That is a great post. As a trainer I have to support adults to change every day and it is very difficult. It is already difficult to change yourself but trying to help others to change that might not even see the need to change is even harder. In addition to the 7 skills listed by Michael here, the book SWITCH by Dan and Chip Heat deals with change and is very easy to read with a lot of practical examples.


  14. Your post is really interesting.

    Accept uncertainty and be optimistic : It is a very good point. Many of us decide to change our life but this process is sometimes accompanied by a big decision to take and a risk. A big change generates uncertainty. Accepting uncertainty and being optimistic play a very important role in having a successful outcome.
    Earl Nightingale presents in his book Lead The Field an exercise to apply in order to stop worrying about the future!

  15. Be sure to shift your job’s priorities to match the changes in organizational priorities. Align yourself with any changes in values and culture. Adjust your approach to fit the personality and management style of new leaders. Get busy developing new competencies if your skills become outdated.

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