Simply Said
Simply Said
Simply Said is the essential handbook for business communication.



Diane FakhouriWhen I was a kid, my father always lectured me, “If you don’t change, you’ll end up like the dinosaurs… extinct.” I knew what he said was true, but I hated hearing it. Change is hard and uncomfortable.

Fast forward many years and I now know change is not just unavoidable, it’s essential for growth. Businesses and individuals must change, adapt, and adjust to compete and thrive.

To gain some insight, I had the pleasure of interviewing Diane Fakhouri, Chief Learning Officer Worldwide at Ogilvy & Mather, a global advertising and marketing agency, about leading an organization through transformation. Diane shared her ideas about how to navigate an often messy and chaotic time, including four important leadership tools to tackle change. Here’s what she said:

Change is Hard

In today’s world change is a constant and you don’t always get it right the first time. We are undergoing the largest transformation in the history of our company. We are impacting change at every level of the organization. The changes are grand, and it takes time, especially to reach 16,000 global employees. We are in the thick of it and have learned a lot during the process.


As leaders, authenticity is important – in all directions. I’m proud of our senior leaders at Ogilvy – they are leading with full transparency. They had to not only be aligned to the change and the mission, but they had to lead it in all markets across the globe. To do that, we put them front and center and on the road.

As you share the big picture with your employees, the more transparent and honest you are the more you continue to build trust. With that trust, it’s important to solicit and analyze feedback that you hear from employees, and then communicate that information back to leadership in an honest, authentic way.


We are creating a Listening Culture at Ogilvy – an “always on” approach to meeting our employees’ needs and addressing concerns. We are embedding various mechanisms to develop this including a new, simple way of talking about career conversations, a pulsing strategy to encourage employee feedback, an engagement survey to track our journey and new technology platforms that allow collaboration and sharing.

Listening is a vital leadership tool and essential in times of change. It takes practice and commitment to be a truly exceptional listener. Ask lots of questions to engage your team and uncover how they feel about your company’s evolution. Encourage open, honest conversations on a regular basis.


As we transform, it is clear our managers are the life blood of our agency. When undergoing change, empower your managers early in the process. Give them the communication and messaging tools to drive change within their teams. Embed coaching and listening skills into everything you do. Explore your manager’s challenges and encourage their curiosity to find the answer, rather than jumping in to solve or to fix the problem.

Provide a clear picture of what’s happening, where your company is headed and why. Always share the benefits of the change as well as any potential negative impact. Inform your managers about your company’s goals and the overall strategy on a consistent basis.

Help managers understand their role and how the change aligns with your company’s needs. Educate your managers so they can handle questions, potential objections, and remain enthusiastic.


Messages should be clear, concise and continuous. Key messages should be visible to your employees, as well as shared verbally. And don’t underestimate the need for repetition. Repeat your company’s mission and vision to reinforce the need for change in the first place. 

Finally, keep your door open and reinforce that you are always available. A wonderful organic coaching process springs from organizational change. Ask yourself: how do I want to show up? Exceptional leaders have a generosity of spirit that inspires others. 

Strong leaders who utilize transparency, listening, empowerment, and clear messaging, can make your company’s transformation more successful and rewarding. What’s the alternative? Don’t change and watch as your competition leaves you behind, playing in the tar pits with the other dinosaurs.

What tools do you find most helpful when leading change?

All the best,

Anne Teutschel
Exec|Comm Learning Consultant

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