Cross Canada Corporate Services

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Where change management theory meets practice.

So what is LEAD exactly?

LEAD stands for Listen, Explore, Act and Develop. 

LEAD change management model assists a manager to anticipate upcoming, incremental changes, and is the approach our team  at Cross Canada Corporate Services uses with our customers. The specific aspects of this model are explained here.

Listen. A manager anticipates change by following the LEAD cycle by Listening to employees’ verbal and non-verbal communication (Cawsey, Deszca, Ingols, 2016; Ramlall, 2006). While Listening to employees wants/needs/interests, a manager anticipates changes that may occur within a department—or changes that need addressing. During this step, a leader needs to seek to be aware of / understand a problem (Paillé, & Grima, 2011). As well, a leader needs to listen to what an employee is not saying by noting non-verbal cues as well as observations of how an employee is (not) progressing. These non-verbal cures could be an employee disengaged at work by checking a cell phone and not engaging with customers nearby (Carson, Shanock, Heggestad, Andrew, Pugh, & Walter, 2012). 

At this early stage of change, our goal is to sustain a positive relationships. During this Listening stage we need to encourage open and honest communication by creating a positive, trusting environment. We need to care about understanding how an employee is progressing. Creating a positive environment will look different for each employee.  We need to be adaptive to change as well as consider what we can do to be open and honest during a conversation. For example, I may share his/her previous experience of my working experience.  Finally, by listening to an employee’s concerns, a manager is establishing trust and respect by taking in all information without bias or prejudice. 

Explore. Within an Exploration stage of LEAD, a manager is inspiring both employee and self in thinking “outside of the box” to find possible solutions if there is a problem or by exploring interests and ideas. By thinking of possible solutions with all stakeholder’s, a manager is inspiring their team (Carlile, 2002; Chang, Lee, Wei, & Huang, 2017; Deluga, 1990). Within this stage, we need to analyze each option as a possible solution because there are no bad ideas.   Even accepting that a solution may not be found,we need to ensure that a decision needs to be agreed upon by all to support an employee. In the event of exploring ideas and interests, employees often have good ideas about how to improve a situation. They are, after all, customers to a business!

Act. Action is the next stage in LEAD where a leader is now building commitment from a decision made within the exploratory or listening stage. By acting on a possible solution or awareness, commitment is shared and made by all parties involved--with a goal to achieve a positive outcome (Braun, Avital, & Martz, 2012; Chai, Hwang, & Joo, 2017). Within Act, a manager needs to utilize all resources to ensure success. By utilizing resources, (e.g., employees supporting another employee or specific tools or actions), a leader needs to ensure any employee has no restrictions, meaning all available tools are available (Chai, Hwang, & Joo, 2017). Finally, once an outcome / transition is achieved, a leader must debrief and review to determine what wins, misses, and opportunities occurred during the Act cycle. By debriefing, a leader encourages a successful outcome and business success!

Develop. Incremental changes occur within the LEAD model during the Develop stage.  While this stage is aimed at overall growth and development of participants, an organization can grow as a result of an Action if there is some learning about the organization that transpires (Hong, & Rui-min, 2012).   When this happens, the organization at the marcro and micro unit levels is enhanced and thus customer service benefits. When a solution is found, a leader needs to encourage ongoing training and development of their team and reward for meeting an objective (Ramlall, 2006). If a solution or satisfaction was not found, a leader needs to revisit the Listening stage and recycle the model until a successful outcome occurs where all stakeholders agree a solution is reached. We need to utilize all ideas generated within all stages so that the organization and employees benefit from change and continue to grow as a learning organization. 

In general, The LEAD model is not without assumptions to achieving an effective change. While this change management model goal is to listen to all issues and ideas, explore options for a positive solution, and act on these, organizational changes take many forms and require many considerations when developing a sound outcome.


Braun, F. C., Avital, M., & Martz, B. (2012). Action-centered team leadership influences more than performance. Team Performance Management, 18(3/4), 176-195. doi:10.1108/13527591211241015

Carlile, L. W. (2002). Knowledge management and training the value of collaboration. Performance Improvement, 41(4), 37-43. doi:10.1002/pfi.4140410407 


Carson, M., Shanock, L., Heggestad, E., Andrew, A., Pugh, S., & Walter, M. (2012). The relationship between dysfunctional interpersonal tendencies, derailment potential behavior, and turnover. Journal of Business and Psychology, 27(3), 291-304. doi:10.1007/s10869-011-9239-0



Cawsey, T.P., Deszca, G., Ingols, C. (2016). Organizational change: an action-oriented toolkit. Los Angeles: SAGE

Chai, D. S., Hwang, S. J., & Joo, B. (2017). Transformational leadership and organizational commitment in teams: The mediating roles of shared vision and Team‐Goal commitment. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 30(2), 137-158. doi:10.1002/piq.21244


Chang, J., Lee C., Wei,P., & Huang,W. (2017). How do employees inspire innovative work behavior? transformational leadership and work motivation perspectives. 2017 IEEE International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management (IEEM), 1797-1801. doi:10.1109/IEEM.2017.8290201 


Deluga, R. J. (1990). The effects of transformational, transactional, and laissez faire leadership characteristics on subordinate influencing behavior. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 11(2), 191-203. doi:10.1207/s15324834basp1102_6

Hong, L, & Rui-min, P. (2012). The effect of transformational mentorship on individual creativity in educational research teams: The mediating role of LMX and intrinsic motivation. 2012 International Conference on Management Science & Engineering 19th Annual Conference Proceedings, 1206-1214. doi:10.1109/ICMSE.2012.6414329

Paillé, P., & Grima, F. (2011). Citizenship and withdrawal in the workplace: Relationship between organizational citizenship behavior, intention to leave current job and intention to leave the organization. The Journal of Social Psychology, 151(4), 478-493. doi:10.1080/00224545.2010.507266

Ramlall, S. J. (2006). Strategic HR management creates value at target. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 25(2), 57-62. doi:10.1002/joe.20090

Learn More

To learn more about LEAD and how to implement LEAD into your coaching and development of staff, click the below link to reach us. 

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