How Leaders Become Change Warriors and not Change Worriers

By Judith Glaser and Joe Bonito

If you are entrusted with making change happen, think about what it takes to get to the actual essence of facilitating change.4 ways to facilitate change

When successful change occurs, those involved feel like authors of change not objects of change. They feel fully invested, accountable and energetic about the future, even in the face of huge challenges.

The most successful change initiatives include a Re-visioning process of rewriting the Vision, Values, Mission and Purpose (VVMP). Along with revising the VVMP, many companies embark on Re-engineering, Total Quality, Lean Manufacturing – changing practices and procedures manuals to give people a new set of Commandments from which to operate.

Although well-intended, these approaches often fail. Why? Without realizing it, the energy behind the VVMP is a top-down compliance approach, where the senior team determines the new direction, strategies and mission.

In some cases, after much effort, leaders give up or lose energy. Some even find that people are more disillusioned than before. Yet there are successes—when leaders become Change Warriors and not Change Worriers.

Scars from Change
Anyone who has tried to help companies and leaders change may bear scars from their efforts. The key to successful change is not learning to be better commanders or lecturers. The key lies in understanding change from a brain-based perspective that focuses on how change is a process “we” do together, not one “I” do alone.

Change only takes place when we are engaged with others in co-creating conversations. These are conversations full of discovery and questions that open our thinking. When our “brain-hardwiring” changes then, inevitably, we change. Here is one of four ways to approach change:

Scar 1: Managing resistance. Resistance and skepticism are companions to change. When people are asked to do things differently, they naturally resist, seeking to comprehend the implications of the change in their lives. Yet too often we interpret this resistance as a “no.” Then when tell or sell doesn’t work, we resort to yell. Either way we are not dealing with resistance productively because we don’t see that resistance is to be expected. Instead, we fan the flame and make resistance and fear a way of life.

Solution 1: Reframe. Accept resistance as a natural part of change. People need to challenge new ideas before they can accept them. For full ownership and accountability to take place, they need to be pulled towards the change.  To generate “pull energy,” actively engage your team through participation. Have authentic, meaningful dialogue (not Power Point presentations) about how, why and how fast to change rather than simply asking for compliance. This will release new energy for change.

Next, the other three ways to facilitate change.

Judith GlaserJudith E. Glaser, CEO Benchmark Communications, Inc. & Chairman of the Creating WE Institute; Author of 4 Best Selling books including Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Bibliomotion 2013; www.creatingwe.com;  jeglaser@creatingwe.com

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