Chameleons, Leadership and Change

Adapting accordingly

Evolutionary change has led chameleons to adjust their mindset and develop unique abilities over millions of years. Some of these unique skills include a talent to change their skin colour instantly in response to predators, to control each eye independently and alter their body shape to communicate with other lizard species. They possess a consistent competence to sense changes in their environment and adjust accordingly.

Some examples of different types of Organisational change

In our professional world, we know many types of changes can occur. From a people perspective, employees are often asked to be responsive to shifts in their environment, such as being asked to work three days in the office instead of zero days during COVID-19. They may also be tasked with winning a significant business opportunity, such as designing and presenting a presentation to a client. Or they may need to adapt to unexpected structural and strategic changes, such as two functions coming together as part of a merger.

Regardless of the scale of organisational change, people are ultimately at the centre.

Common goals

Change can be a complicated process involving deep rooted behaviours, internal politics, impending risks and numerous benefits. To navigate change effectively, it is critical that teams have support and opportunities to feedback.

From a strategic perspective, leaders should evaluate their engagement process to ensure there is active, timely and effective communication. They should ensure that their teams feel involved and that they actively listen to what their people are saying. As the single source of truth, it is the leadership team’s responsibility to truly understand the core impact(s) any professional change will have on their people before it occurs. By doing this effectively, it sets a tone and builds the foundations for long-term success.

How do leaders ensure that they understand their teams?

Pace, pace, lead

The ‘pace, pace, lead’ framework is a technique used in psychology and performance coaching that originates from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Taught within Executive Coaching courses globally, it is an intentional process that helps build trust and gain momentum by establishing rapport with the person or group.

The first step, pace, involves mirroring behaviours, language or communication style to create a sense of familiarity and connection. The second step, also called pace, involves matching their behaviours while introducing new ideas or perspectives. The last step, lead, involves introducing new behaviours or suggestions, which are more likely to be accepted because of the previously established rapport.

The technique ‘pace, pace, lead’ refers to a deliberate process that moves forward at a measured pace. Although it’s not slow, the process can be perceived as gradual. This approach involves carefully building trust and momentum before ultimately leading towards change. This ensures that a clear understanding is established before change occurs.


During their evolution, chameleons have experienced many failures giving them the skills to learn, adapt and grow through experience. When it comes to small or large organisational change, experience tells us it is critical for leaders to understand their people. The level at which people feel engaged, through active listening, will either build or break trust.

Once a clear understanding is established, organisations, leaders and departments should work towards a common goal of aligning the culture with desired behaviours. Successful change happens when people are given the right environment to develop new skills and the autonomy to be accountable for their responsibilities.

This powerful combination of alignment, advancement, autonomy and accountability provides a genuine competitive advantage resulting in greater individual and collective performance and a significant return on investment.

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