As a leader, one of the hardest things to do is to lead people through the process of change. But, the reality is that change is happening around us all the time. And if we don’t change, we’ll be left behind. Change is a function of growth … things/organizations/people cannot grow unless they change. The paradigm that exists with all change as it relates to people is that the person must decide to change before they will.
A leader’s job is to inspire and influence the people they lead to create an environment where it is easy to change. As with most leadership principles, this one is easier said than done. I’ve found that there are really five reasons that change is hard for so many people … in fact I identified these in myself. So let’s learn and grow (and change) together!
- I don’t want to. There are moments in time where we become obstinate. We just flat out don’t want to change. It can be vindictive because we don’t agree with the change or it can come from a place of bitterness because of a broken relationship. Regardless of where it comes from or what causes it, this can be very difficult for a leader to overcome. I think the key is to uncover the root and approach the change delicately.
- I don’t see the value. This is the most common reason that people don’t adopt change. It is largely the fault of the leader also. Ouch! But, the truth is that leaders must communicate to those around them the why behind the change. People must move from understanding the reason toward seeing the value behind it. This happens through open dialogue and giving people the time to get there themselves.
- I’m too comfortable. Let’s face it, there are many things in our lives that are habits and we are just flat out comfortable doing them. And, the thought of change means that I am going to have to work hard or do something that is out of the ordinary for me. Routines and traditions are the comfort zone of many people and this can make change difficult. But, if “there” is better than “here,” then I can more easily leave my place of comfort and move to that place.
- In my mind, we’ve tried that before. This one can be pervasive and deadly for an organization. Often, I’ve found that the old way of doing things may not have worked back then, but it works great now. This is usually because there are different people involved or there was something missing back then that isn’t today. But, when people get the sense that we’ve tried it before and it didn’t work, this can be a difficult idea to overcome. It many ways, the leader will have to take some risk and prove to the team, through practical application, that it can work now even when it didn’t work then.
- It’s just too much work. I’ve already mentioned the idea of comfort zones. But this goes beyond that. Not only does change inherently require us to work harder, but most change brings with it new systems, new processes, and even new personalities. Change is hard work and it requires a team that is able to endure … focused on the end result. The most important thing a leader can do when faced with this mentality is to re-focus the team on the mission. The change is directly tied to the mission and if we don’t change, it means that we will not be fulfilling our mission and could, in a worst case scenario, become extinct.
Those are my five. And, as I said, this was written looking inwardly … at myself. Can you relate to any of these?