One of the many issues surrounding leadership is how to inspire change in followers. Central to this idea is this question:
“What is the most effective way to get people to change?”
Chay Chay Chay Change….
This question comes up all the time when talking to leaders. And when the question is posed in a group, it usually leads to groans and mutterings of things like this:
“Human nature doesn’t like to accept change.”
And while many people make the answer to the questions surrounding change into a complex equation requiring a sophisticated answer, the simple answer to these questions by leaders to find the secrets of effectual change can be found in the famous quote by Ghandi:
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
But for many, this recital doesn’t give them the answer they are looking for because it goes too deep for their perceptions. It simply goes over their heads.
On Management and Leadership
Change is constant. Change is inevitable. And if you notice, it is continually going on whether we like it or not. In fact, John Maxwell often says that,
The difference between a manager and a leader is that a manager assumes things will stay the same, a leader assumes things will change.
This isn’t a criticism of managers, it is only advice on how to be an effective leader within a managerial role. We must, as leaders, learn to adapt and be flexible so that others will be willing to change as well.
Consciously Resistant to Change
However, consciously, people do not like change when made aware of it.
For example, telling employees that strategy ‘A’ is turning into strategy ‘B’ will typically cause people to resist the initiative. This happens even when strategy B is better. So what is a leader to do when people do not want to relinquishment old habits, processes, or procedures? But is this even the correct question to ask?
The real question then becomes this:
How do we lessen the resistance that is almost inevitable?
A clear example of lessening one’s resistance to change can be found in one’s everyday life. This lesson what taught to me when I found out that my 4×4 utility vehicle had an inoperable gas gauge.
I found out quickly that I needed to change my reliance on one (inoperable) instrument indicator (gas gauge) on my instrument panel and move to another (tripometer) that provided accurate data for my travels.
While driving down the road, I do not have the ability to know the level of fuel in my gas tank. However, What I do know is that I do have a tripometer that tells me that my gas tank usually runs out around 300 miles. So to remedy the issue of not having accurate data conveyed to me through normal methodology (of a fuel guage,) I simply adapt to the suttoundings with the information that I have and make decisions baesd on new, dynamic metrics,
Essentially it is this: As soon as I see the tripometer hitting 280 miles, I fill up the tank with gas.
This personal change never bothered me. I fact, I found it more accurate to go with the measurements of the tripometer in my other car instead of the gas gauge now.
But if you were to have told me this:
“Today you are going to start using your tripometer to gauge when to fill up your gas tank (Strategy B) instead of your gas gauge (Strategy A)”
I would have resisted it.
I would have still used my gas gauge for as long as possible because, as thought leadership expert Christian Simpson believes, human nature is inherently resistant to change.
In fact, as leadership expert John Maxwell points out this:
“Leaders are some of the most resistant people to change”.
Application of Theory
So how do we apply this to our leadership abilities and therefore ourselves and our teams?
The start of it begins with understanding the presupposition that human nature resists change when made aware of it. Now, that does not mean don’t tell your followers that change is coming because, as we all know, that is worse than telling them change is coming.
The best way to use this understanding is to look at the outcomes any given change will bring about. If people realize that the change will bring about the same outcome (not running out of gas in my case) or that the outcome is more beneficial than staying static (running out of gas in my case) then people will embrace change more readily.
In other words, don’t show people the features of the change first; begin with the benefits.
Coaching for a Change
This will help them not to focus on the change but, rather, the outcome-effectively bypassing conscious awareness of an actual change being made.
This is because when you can harness this practice in your business, department, or organization, you will be laying the ground working for coaching for a change in your leadership. You will also begin to see growth towards change in your team. They will not resist as much and they may even begin to enjoy the benefits that change can bring and readily embrace it.
I look forward to writing more about this in the future but for now, I look forward to seeing you rise to the head of the pack.
Are you willing to be the change you want your followers to embrace? Are you willing to take the time to show others how the change benefits them? Are you willing to show them how staying static will become a negative in their live? Could mastering coaching as a leader in your business/department/organization be what you need to rise to the head of the pack?
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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders™
Bryan Wolff is Owner of Bryan Wolff Leadership & Business Strategies
He helps business professionals and their teams unleash their leadership instincts
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | (218) 969-8057
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