A great deal has been written about the impact leadership can have on employees’ decision to change or not to change. And leaders have had too many experiences with failed changes not to be sensitive to this reality today. They often, however, encounter three main problems:
- They can’t imagine why anyone would resist
- They don’t know when they are not being good leaders of change
- They don’t know what to do to be a good leader of change
So let’s dive in…
1. They can’t imagine why anyone would resist
Business leaders are paid and entrusted to make sound decisions that are right for the organization. When those decisions require organizational change, why would people want to resist? Why wouldn’t they just fall in line and adapt?
Leaders have to focus on the change from the perspective of the people that are most impacted by it, which, for many leaders can be difficult.
2. They don’t know when they are not being good leaders of change
Too often leaders aren’t aware of the fact that employees don’t have the information and support they need. One reason for this is that they are often isolated from any agitation that employees might be feeling regarding the change. Leaders may even go home at night confused and frustrated. Why isn’t the change going faster? What’s holding it up?
Nobody is telling them what specific resistance issues are being generated for which specific groups of people. Why not? First, there is no systematic way to gather that data and assess the resistance sources and to what degree. And second, many organizations have a culture of filtering out bad news. By the time it gets to senior management, the hard data is sifted out and only vague generalities are left.
3. They don’t know what to do to be a good leader of change
Leaders need to not only be effective business leaders, but effective change leaders as well. Undoubtedly, it takes a concentrated effort to be a good sponsor of change. It is a skill to be learned. The single most important lesson to remember is that resistance to change makes sense from the perspective of the individual who is impacted. The ability to see the change from that perspective is key to good change leadership.
Being insulated from organizational issues that are impeding change is one of the top issues leaders face.