Every change initiative relies on people to see it through. Defining their roles can be helpful, as a way to both better understand individual reactions and the entire change process.

Change demands and creates the following human roles:


The Pioneer is the person with the new vision, big idea, or paradigm shift.


The Leader is the individual who sponsors the change, enrolls others in the change, and has the organizational and financial authority to make the change happen. The leader can simultaneously be the Pioneer.


Followers are the people who become enrolled in the change first and champion the change by way of influencing, not authority.


Facilitators are those who are organizationally responsible for making the change in their areas of accountability.


Sooners are the first to be enrolled by the Followers. These early adopters support both Followers and Facilitators in making the change happen.


Explorers are called to be Followers but require longer to explore and consider the change before signing up. Explores need their questions as to who, what, where and when to be answered before they will choose to follow.


Resistors fear the change and are only enrolled by tangible results demonstrating the change’s value, and/or the Leader’s declarations that the change is not going away.


Anchors are threatened so much by the change that they are unable or unwilling to even explore its potential. Anchors often self-select out of the organization to escape having to deal with the change.

An important note: Leaders must avoid devoting an inordinate amount of energy to Anchors, Resistors, and Explorers. Most of the Leader’s attention should be given to Followers,  Facilitators and Sooners, who will actually deal with the other groups as part of their role in enacting the change.

Thinking about people’s roles in change can help Leaders operate more clearly and effectively throughout what can often be an overwhelming process. For example, by considering these definitions, Leaders can more easily recognize the behavior of an Explorer for what it is instead of experiencing the Explorer’s reaction as a sign the change is somehow flawed.

Leaders, you’ll have to brave and to believe wholeheartedly in change you advocate. But take heart: you are not alone. Followers, Facilitators and Sooners will prove to be an inspiring––even unstoppable––force.