From mergers to reorganizations to new technologies, the modern workplace is a sea of unrelenting change. Employees in this economy thirst for guidance but are disenfranchised. The solution to transforming a confused and bruised workforce into an engaged and eager team ready for change starts with leadership. Unfortunately, so many leaders struggle with implementing positive change that sticks which is why 70 percent of major change projects fail.
Leaders today know that they need to raise their emotional intelligence, or EQ, to communicate and collaborate effectively. But given the pace and impact of constant change, what about their change intelligence, or CQ? Building CQ starts with inspiring the heart, engaging the brain and helping the hands implement positive change that sticks. Leaders must transition themselves first, from being and feeling and acting against others or doing something to others, or even in spite of others, to working with and for them. Once leaders make this simple mind-set shift, how they relate to others will almost immediately transform from an exhausting no-win battle to a powerful win-win partnership.
What about resistance in the ranks?
Resistance in organizations is like the immune system in the body; it protects against harmful invaders from the outside. Just like pain in the body is a symptom something is wrong, so resistance is a sign to which managers should pay attention. The goal is not to eradicate it, but to allow it to surface so it can be explored and honored. Enabling people to participate in this way leads to higher quality solutions and smoother implementation. People own what they help create. To lead more effectively, learn to see resistance as your ally, not your enemy.
How can leaders change their own styles?
What you see depends on where you sit. Change looks very different at different levels of the organizational hierarchy. Those at the top are typically isolated. Those at the bottom are most resistant. Those in the middle are squeezed. In order to diffuse resistance and create buy in, it's critical that you sit in others' seats and appreciate their pressures. Adapt your approach to the very different needs and concerns of these very different audiences. Another strategy to engage for positive change is for leaders to take into account not only their own "head," "heart" and "hands," but those of the people they manage. So often, what looks like resistance is really that people don't get it, don't want it or they are unable to do it. Engage the brain by explaining the "why" of the change help the "head" understand your vision, mission, and goals. Inspire the "heart" to care about the change objectives by engaging with others, dealing with fears and building trust. Help the "hands" apply the change provide tactics, training and tools, and eliminate barriers standing in people's way. It's not about changing fundamentally who we are. It's about the flexibility to adapt our leadership approach to powerfully and positively get us all where we need to go to meet the challenges of today's demanding times. It's amazing how when we change, others change.
Dawn House Barbara Trautlein, author