I have been coaching a CEO in his role of leading change. He started by telling me the “accepted truth” that “people don’t like change”. This belief, like many others, needs some clarification. After all, I cannot think of many people who wouldn’t like a change that included more money, better facilities etc. I do buy into the statement that people can fear change. This reaction arises from the fear of what will be lost because of the change, rather than the change itself. Supporting people through change is the key role of a leader and can be effective if the process starts with asking 3 key questions.
1. What is going to stay the same with this change? Recognising the features that remain and are familiar to them, can be comforting.
2. What might you gain (or might be possible) with this change? Here, you focus their attention on potential benefits and helps to put them in a positive mind-frame.
3. What do you fear you will lose? After the first question (comfort), the second (positive future), they are more likely to have the courage to name and face the losses. Hearing the answers also allows you both to understand their concerns and look to what supports you give to manage the degree, pace or level of change.
So, this CEO decided to give it a try, and he ran a workshop session with his team whereby each question was written on a blank flip-chart. Everyone contributed and the atmosphere in the room moved from one of quiet concern to positive humour and mutual support. If you have the challenge of leading change – try it and see what happens!
Future Forum Meetings
The Leadership Forum, 11th December, Bury St Edmunds, hosted by Axis Partnership – ‘Starting with the end in mind”.
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Like many young girls at age 8, I was besotted with ponies and my parents allowed me to take horse-riding lessons. One of the lessons used to include saddle manoeuvres. A particular favourite was the scissors. You faced forward, swung your legs back and at the same time turned around to end up facing backwards. This exercise has now come in useful. Why? Because this is the only way I can turn over in bed – courtesy of the cat who has decided that her sleeping place is between my ankles.