Ambition: The 4th of seven ways to be more effective as a change manager

The fourth of the seven deadly virtues of a change manager is a big one: Ambition. Maybe we don’t think of the warm and fuzzy change manager as being ambitious? That’s good. Because the warm and fuzzy change manager is mythical at best, and ineffective at worst. Ambition in this context is not personal ambition for promotion or aggrandisement. It’s something much more virtuous.

Perception | Judgement | Honesty | Ambition | Courage | Resilience | Invisibility


It may seem odd to think of a change manager as being ambitious. But Ambition is the virtue of being bold. Daring to aim high. Being bold in terms of setting a goal for successful change, and for successful change management. Focusing on intent and on purpose as well as on outcomes, are all aspects of ambition. It’s not enough to create a great communication, or a wonderful training package. It’s not enough to list and analyse stakeholders. These things only serve to help an outcome be achieved. Delivery is only part of that outcome. 

This is where definition and measurement come into their own. Change managers talk about a measurable future, because it underpins the fostering of belief. Going from ‘here’ to ‘there’ successfully is the goal, and people have to believe the trip is worth it. So we paint the picture of what it will be like in the future. We don’t downplay the difficulty because of the third virtue of Honesty, of course. We craft a series of steps and activities, so that the goal doesn’t seem too great, and tangible progress can be experienced.

Too much ambition and pragmatism goes out the window. Rigidly pursuing an unbelieved goal does not usually motivate people to start to take the small steps needed to change behaviour. 

Too little ambition and the goal doesn’t seem important, and the needed change becomes watered down. Where there is too little ambition, often it is the change manager who lacks belief in the outcome being achievable. And that will become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The key question – how do we achieve the best outcome we possibly can? Let’s go for it!

I’m sure you have the Courage, even before the next article, to think about your experience with the deadly virtue of Ambition. Does it depend on its other friends in the list of articles so far – Perception, Judgement and Honesty? What happens if it breaks ranks and strikes out on its own? Your stories and comments are always welcome.

This blog was originally published by Camille on LinkedIn here.

Camille Clerc
About: Camille Clerc

An experienced and passionate change manager, Camille has led significant change projects to deliver cultural and organisational change through IT transformations, business process improvement and technology projects. Guiding and advising senior leadership teams including C-suite, Camille has delivered astute, commercial, pragmatic change management strategies that have steered organisations through significant IT and cultural transformations.