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Change management (CM) and organizational development are mature industries with decades of research and development. Yet, failure rates stated for organizational change initiatives remain high at 70%. This failure rate suggests that 30% of change initiatives were successful, but no reports of these successes were found in the literature. The overarching question considered the experiences of change leaders of successful CM initiatives. The conceptual framework for this research consisted of change models defined by Burke, Kotter, Schein, and others. The primary purpose of this study was to identify the strategies used by successful change leaders. 10 phone interviews with senior employee change leaders in education, pharmaceuticals, and industrial manufacturing companies across the United States provided the data for this empirical phenomenological study. Data were collected using open, conversational interviews. A modified van Kaam method was used to analyze the data. The most important themes identified were collaborative leadership and open communication. The results indicated how these strategies were used without relying on the literature to guide them. Leaders relied on intuition and independently, aligned to aspects suggested by the framework authors, but differed in their applications. Using the results of this study may improve the implementation of change projects and success rates, thus reducing organizational costs and improving organizational performance. This may have a positive social change effect on the surrounding community, as project successes may lead to reduced employee job losses and reduced concomitant job losses and the associated economic decline.