CHANGE & How You Can Lead Change Better By Doing One Thing (That Most of Us Fear Doing)

by James Sudakow, Inc. Magazine, 1/24/17.

In many ways, though, the single biggest strategy I found that worked isn’t really a secret at all. And it isn’t that hard to do except that most of us don’t do it simply out of fear:

Find the people who are dead set against the change you are trying to lead, and go get them involved in it.

It sounds counter-intuitive. Why would you actually seek out the people who want you to fail or who are actively, or frequently passive aggressively, lobbying against you? Why would you put them on the core team who is leading the change? Isn’t that kind of like sabotaging yourself?

Maybe not.

In every change effort I lead, I actively find the loudest conscientious objectors to genuinely get them involved because they do two critical things that will make the change actually stick:

1. They will tell you all of the reasons (that you don’t want to hear) about why people don’t want to, or can’t, make the change a reality.

That information is really important. Not only does it help you understand why people may resist so you can think about how to handle it, but it also forces you to confront potentially legitimate flaws in the change you are trying to make or blind spots in your thinking. Whether you like it or not, you will be forced to hear perspectives counter to your own about the change.

2. If you find a way to work with them towards a solution they support, they will become your biggest advocates in selling the change.

There’s an old expression that says that “nobody is more zealous than a convert.” If you can truly find a way to collaborate with the objectors and find a solution they can support, they will sell the change enthusiastically. A lot of the objectors are quite influential across the company.

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