Propelling change forward in any organization is a difficult leadership challenge.
People naturally resist change and view it as uncomfortable, hard work, and time-consuming. They aren’t wrong. In the best circumstances, truly getting team members on board with a change requires a different approach.
Instead of promoting the change, the best leaders co-create it with their team members. As the saying goes, “Don’t involve me in the landing if you don’t involve me in the takeoff.”
Creating change with others means beginning the conversation as early as possible. The ideal place to start is when the problem or opportunity first materializes.
Exploring the problem or opportunity in a group setting at the outset where team members can wrestle it to the ground introduces the possible need for change without ever making that case. Giving others the right to define the problem and its implications creates a sense of ownership that can’t be overstated.
Rather than overcoming the resistance generated by a proposed change, co-creating change by beginning the conversation when the problem arises makes everyone a conspirator.
As plans for the needed change begin to emerge, the entire team can be used to craft them. No longer is change in this form a matter of making the case or convincing people of the need for a new way forward. Team members are left to grapple with the pace of making the change rather than the benefits or risks associated with it.
On occasion, the problem or opportunity is already in the rearview mirror and a leader can’t engage a conversation whose time has already passed. The critical point is to involve team members at the earliest possible moment, whenever that is feasible or practical.
Once a change issue has been even half-baked without involvement from the team, resistance is sure to follow.
As co-creators of the problem and therefore the need for change, the team takes an entirely different outlook on what is required to happen differently in the future. They become allies in crafting the forward strategy, rather than petulant adolescents who demand change be negated.
But this conversation alternative starts with a leader who is wise enough to include and involve people in the takeoff. Trust the fact that the plane is much easier to land without the winds of discord blowing across the runway. The best leaders co-create change, rather than promote or sell it.
What is the chief reason people resist change in your experience?