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Break the ‘because I said so’ cycle

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Most leaders are pretty good at the logical, structural side of leading change: strategizing and action planning, for example. What eludes us is the emotional side, where our people may be compliant but are not committed.

People get stuck because what they had before was nice and familiar. Learning this new stuff is hard, so they look for someone to guide and support them through the chaos.

If they don’t see that support, they’ll drag their feet. In response, the leader repeats the logic behind the change, pushes harder, tries pep talks, then anger and threats. Finally, his people shut down.

Here are three ways to avoid that cycle so your people trust you enough to accept the change.
  1. Examine what you consider leadership, your “mental model” of how leaders are supposed to think and act. If you become aware of your assumptions, you may be able to climb out of a rut.

  2. Understand that change is not the same as transition. Change is the external reality, the “new way.” Transition is adapting to it. Every transition starts with an ending—out with the old—that people don’t like. If they struggle, take time to review with them what’s been lost, what’s blocking their way and what they stand to gain by adapting.

  3. Start moving yourself. Since we learn best through experience, jump in. If you can learn, adapt and help your people do the same, you’ll all move ahead.
— Adapted from Leading With Authenticity in Times of Transition, Kerry A. Bunker, Michael Wakefield, Center for Creative Leadership, www.ccl.org.

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