Be a Change Leader

Loss and leaders. ✎ By Wayne K. Spear

Photo courtesy of m.a.r.c. on Flickr

All change is loss.

Change is commitment to giving something up in order to get something better.

I will lose 20 pounds. I will quit smoking. I will spend less time procrastinating.

It is the same in an organization or community. As a change leader, you are asking people to give up something known, familiar, and predictable—in exchange for something uncertain, unknown, and unpredictable.

Uncertainty breeds fear and mistrust. Address these emotions head-on by focusing first on positives.

Ask: “What do we value? What is good? What works for us?”

Identify the present positives. Build on the foundation of positive, shared values. Demonstrate your commitment to the good. This will reduce fear and mistrust and build consensus.

Now that you have focused everyone’s mind on the present positives, transition to the future positives.

A commitment to losing 20 pounds is not a future positive: it is the action that attains the future positive. It is a negative that focuses our minds on loss. A commitment to quit smoking is likewise not a future positive.

Negatives drain, positives energize. Find, and focus on, the future positives.

Ask “Why?” The answer to Why? will address the unspoken question “What’s in it for me?”

Why should I give up doing things the way I have always done them?

Your organization or community will champion change more readily if you show them the future positives, in a clear and concrete way.

Example: Don’t commit to “losing 20 pounds.” Commit instead to feeling and looking great at your new weight of X pounds.

Energize change by visualizing the Why? There are many reasons to lose 20 pounds, and if you identify the fundamental Why, you will have a powerful motivator.

Tell others what the future looks like and on what date it will be realized. Be as specific as possible.

Show how future positives are linked to present positives. Change, properly managed, supports and enriches our present positives. It does not displace, or replace, our values and our good.

Change requires you to ask good questions and to listen. Don’t dictate: facilitate.

Move from positive to positive.

Find the bedrock of shared values. Build upon strengths. Have a clear vision of the future.

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