Former VP of Travelocity; Change Champion at GE and American Airlines
Al Comeaux is the bestselling author of one of the best change management books of all time and a global authority on change from the inside-out. As a master storyteller and long-time C-level change agent, he shares his unique knowledge about winning at change through engaging keynotes, online masterclasses, in-person training, and coaching.
Comeaux has held senior leadership positions championing vast strategic changes, including an IPO, reaction to a hostile takeover, a take-private/leveraged buyout, digital transformations, two startups inside large corporations, massive globalization, two 40 percent layoffs, as well as three CEO transitions, countless other executive transitions, four nationwide strikes, and too many other changes to count.
After helping lead a terribly unsuccessful change effort in the late 90s, he set out to understand why some organizations’ change efforts succeed, while most fail. This research and in-house experience make him one of the world’s most forward thinkers on what leaders must do—and how they must think—to succeed at change. Now, after this 20-year journey, he’s developed Primed for Change, a disruptive new project created to prepare leaders to steer their organizations successfully through change.
In 2020, Comeaux released his debut book, Change (the) Management: Why We as Leaders Must Change for the Change to Last, which draws on his decades of experience in-seat as a change champion and senior executive, as well as his years of research on the subject of organizational change. With well-told stories that illustrate the need for this fundamentally new way of thinking, this book finally speaks straight to senior executives who need to re-think how they manage change…and even how they lead every day.
Winning the Biggest Test We Face: Change Durability
Never-ending change has our people fatigued, and worn out. How do we re-energize our organizations to take on the new challenges that threaten our enterprises’ very existence? We do it by bringing new energy to the fulcrum of all our changes: Our people. And we do it with a new way of thinking about leadership and change. In this speech, Al Comeaux brings his decades of leading changes at the C-level and 20 years studying changes at scores of organizations to share new insight on how we must lead change by re-energizing our teams moving forward…if we’re going to move forward at all.
Leaders fail two-thirds of the time at change. Why? Because we follow the common thinking about change. We think we can change our organizations, but organizations don’t change. (People do.) We focus on tactical check-the-box excellence—project management, finance-related decisions, and technology choices; these things are important, but they won’t buy us much if our people don’t change. We think we and our fellow leaders need to solve the problem from the top down, but our people are closer to the action than we are, and any change needs to be their idea—at least in part—if it’s going to stick. And, our reflexes tell us to jump full-throttle into the change when some of the most important change work happens well before we execute. It’s time for a rethink. It takes someone who’s been in your seat and made and grappled with these mistakes (and admits to them) to truly fathom and share how to finally get this right. In this keynote, I bring data and stories from my decades of living, leading, and researching change so you can avoid these pitfalls and get a step ahead in how you lead successful change, and in how you lead every day.
Winning at Change
Given the trillions wasted on failed change efforts each year, how must we as leaders go about change differently? What do leaders at companies that win at change do vs the unsuccessful among us? In this signature keynote, Al offers an insider’s view—having led changes of all sorts at the C-level for 20+ years, in addition to two decades studying change at scores of companies—to share a brutal truth: Organizations don’t change. People do. It turns out, change is a decision made by every single person. As leaders we lose when trying to get our people to change; we win by getting our people to want to change. How? By getting our own hands dirty as leaders. Pulling our people through the change. Understanding the invaluable role that listening and modeling play. This keynote lays out how we as leaders can win our change efforts, and this sets us up for success as leaders overall.
Head & Heart Leadership
How do we as leaders get our people to drive fundamentally better business results than our competitors’ people? There is no silver bullet: Doing it requires us to pull many levers to affect the brain’s rational and emotional processors. We’re great at developing rational explanations for things, but neuroscience makes clear that emotion plays just as big a role. So Al developed this keynote using his 30 years in-seat as an executive at companies such as GE, Travelocity, and American Airlines, to speak with you on a different level and help you understand how to appeal to people’s hearts to drive better results. With stories that touch the brain and the heart, and with research from management, neuroscience, and social science, Al explains the importance of the heart and the principles we must live and work by if we want motivated people who will consistently outperform.
What other organizations say about Al Comeaux
Al Comeaux knows how to hold an audience. At a time when the phone is the speaker’s (and, I imagine, the event planner’s) biggest enemy, Al had our audience focused and attentive. His material and message are great, and just as important, he got through.