Every single person faces change, and it shows up in various ways.
It’s the new system implemented at work that changes your routine. It’s the software update on your cell phone that annoys you. It’s the new microwave in your kitchen that you don’t know how to use. It’s the changing holiday traditions as your family grows. It’s the new salad dressing you have to choose because they’ve discontinued your favorite. It’s your new and longer route to work after your shortcut has been blocked.
When most of us think of change, we dwell on the big things—new jobs, new kids, new relationships. But every moment of every day presents change, and our natural response is to resist it.
That’s why leaders are positioned to help people accept the change that comes their way. Pastors are to fold new believers into their church families and help them navigate the everyday challenges of their Christian lives. Salespeople must convince their customers that the change to their product makes it better. Parents should help their children transition from one developmental milestone to the next and make a change as simple as drinking from a sippy cup feel like a good one.
Leadership is easy when things stay the same. It’s when things are changing that effective leaders stand out among the rest. So whether you are the president of a company launching a new branch of your organization or a parent in the throws of potty-training, here are four things that anybody leading change must do.
Leadership is easy when things stay the same. It’s when things are changing that effective leaders stand out among the rest. @KevinPaulScott
- Communicate why. Human beings are naturally opposed to change, so if we’re going to convince someone that they need to change, it’s not enough to tell them how to change; we have to tell them why. Why is this change going to make their life better? Why is this change necessary? If they don’t change, what are the risks they face? We are quick to analyze the risks of the change, but we often overlook the risk we face if we don’t change.
- Use stories. Some people are driven more by facts and others by feelings, but when it comes to change, each of us tends to have an emotional reaction. In order to motivate people to change, we should use stories, narratives, and examples to help explain what life will be like once the change happens. We all feel more comfortable with change, and more willing to lean in, when we can grasp an image of what it might look like for us.
- Confront criticism. As a leader in an organization, this is the toughest for me. When people criticize, complain, and say the change is not going to work, we have to confront it head-on. This doesn’t mean that you argue with or yell at people. It just means that you can’t allow push-back to go unresolved because it can stir up dissension, dissatisfaction, and discouragement.
- Celebrate acceptance. What’s celebrated is repeated. When somebody has the courage to embrace change, we need to highlight it, acknowledge it, and thank them for it. If you’ve ever potty-trained a child, you know how big of a deal it is every time they use the bathroom. We ought to have that same level of excitement when someone in our office embraces change.
When change is necessary, use these tactics: communicate why, use stories, confront criticism, and celebrate acceptance. And don’t get discouraged. Leading change is tough, but if we didn’t have change, we wouldn’t need leaders.