7 Change Styles for Product Managers & Innovators [Podcast]

Change Intelligence

Our work is the work of innovation. A few years ago I heard the word innovation expressed as in-a-new-way. It’s a helpful phrase to remember that the very nature of innovation means doing something new — something we have not done before — something in-a-new-way. This puts us at the center of change. The very nature of our work as product managers and innovators is change.

We often need to help others we work with understand why change is required. It is a skill we can learn and my quest calls it Change Intelligence. She wrote the book on the topic, Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks. She coaches business leaders, teams, and product managers to effectively lead change in their organizations. She is also a highly sought-after speaker for leadership and change keynotes all over the world. Her name is Barbara Trautlein.

There are three primary change styles and four blended styles. Listen to identify your individual change style and how you can more effectively work with others who have different styles.

Below is a summary of the topics discussed followed by a link to the interview.

[1:05] Why is building our capacity to lead change important? New products and improved products represent big change both internally and externally for an organization. This means product managers and innovators must be leaders of change. Building your capacity to lead change is mission critical in our modern business environment, but it is too often overlooked. If you are interested in leadership training, there are many options, which are generally focused on communications, managing conflict, coaching others, etc., but developing competency in leading change is missing. Now it doesn’t have to be. You can increase your Change Intelligence and lead others through change.

[3:30] Why does change equal pain? Neuroscience researchers have found that our brain responds the same to physical pain in our bodies as it does to change in our environment. Even if you are change-friendly and are able to more easily adapt to change, your brain still responds to it as pain.

[6:06] What is Change Intelligence? Intellectual Intelligence, IQ, is needed for solving problems and developing products. Emotional Intelligence, EQ, is needed to partner with others so we understand our own emotions and those of others. Change Intelligence, CQ, is awareness of our change style and the ability to adapt our style to be effective in different situations and with different people. CQ requires both awareness and adaptability. So often when people are asked to lead change or play a significant role in change, which is the norm for product managers, they encounter resistance. Overcoming resistance is the topic most written about in change literature, which creates an erroneous mindset that change is about controlling other people. We can only control ourselves – our mindset and behavior. CQ helps you be more aware of how you approach change and how to better react to others’ response to change.

[9:24] How does knowing your Change Intelligence help you lead change? What looks like resistance in others is an opportunity for us as change leaders to do something different – something more effective. Being aware of your style helps you control your reaction to change and help others navigate the change.

[10:05] What are the 3 styles of leading change? It’s a simple and actionable model, which is people lead change from the Heart, Head, and Hands.

Change Styles


[20:14] How can knowledge of your change style be put into use? With a product team it can help you identify blind spots the team may have regarding change. If the team is missing a change style, knowledge of CQ will help you know how to fill the gap. You will know what you need to do to lead change instead of defaulting to your normal actions, which won’t be appropriate for all situations and all people. For example, if the team is missing the Hands style of leadership, which is the least common style, then change is unlikely to stick without compensating for this. As a change leader, you have to help people understand the need for the change (Head), have a desire for the change (Heart), and know how to implement and navigate the change (Hands). You can partner with others who have strengths in areas you have weaknesses, such as working with a person with the Hands change style if your strength is in the Head change style.


Listen to the interview with Barbara on The Everyday Innovator Podcast for product managers and innovators.



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Chad McAllisterChad McAllister, PhD. is a product innovation guide, innovation management educator, and recovering engineer. He leads Product Innovation Educators, which trains product managers to create products customers love. He also hosts The Everyday Innovator weekly podcast, sharing knowledge from innovation thought leaders and practitioners. Follow @ChadMcAllister

Chad McAllister




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