Smart leaders understand that they don’t “make” a change happen. They recognize that people in their organization do work, change behaviors, and, ultimately, make change happen. They understand that their role is to make change meaningful and easier to accept. Smart leaders facilitate change.
Let’s look at five things smart leaders do to lower barriers to change.
1. They sell more than they tell
Smart leaders are comfortable selling their ideas. They understand that “telling” someone what’s going to happen is very different from “selling” them on idea. I do not suggest that smart leaders use so called “high-pressure” sales tactics. By selling, I mean that they look for ways to get people emotionally committed to change.
They paint, and re-paint, vision for people. They focus on benefits, not costs. They understand that people need time to adjust, time to accept change. They work to inspire buy-in rather than compliance.
2. They help people tune-in to WII-FM
Sales and marketing professionals talk about radio station that most people tune-in to on a daily basis. They know about WII-FM (What’s in it for me?).
If it’s true about people in marketplace, then it’s true about people in workplace. Smart leaders know how to answer question on every employee’s mind: “What’s in it for me?”
Dr. Aubrey Daniels, noted behavioral analyst and author of Bringing Out Best in People, makes two great comments regarding change acceptance:
* “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed,” and * “People don’t resist change if change provides immediate positive consequences to them.”
Smart leaders know that people are generally more willing to do things that bring personal benefit than they are to do things that benefit organization. They take a pragmatic, not a cynical or negative, view of human nature. They see people for who they are and work to adjust their strategy to go with -- not against -- natural drives of people in their organization.
3. They work through “head grapes”
Every organization has a grapevine -- an unofficial communication channel that often moves faster than official ones. You might call people who other people listen to, and therefore influence grapevine, “head grapes.”