Sometimes change is more difficult to lead than other times. This is where leadership is tested most, tensions mount and people are more likely to object. In my experience, if a leader knows these times it helps prepare to approach the change.
Change is necessary. While change may produce conflict, without change there will also be conflict. When people sit still – when growth stalls – people complain. A very seasoned leader friend of mine says, “Two things I guarantee. People are going to complain about change. And, people are going to complain if things remain the same.”
Therefore, since change is necessary and inevitable, understanding these scenarios – before we attempt change – may help us lead change better.
5 Times Change is Difficult to Lead:
1. When there hasn’t been any change in a very long time.
Change becomes more comfortable when it occurs regularly. When nothing has changed for a period of time, people feel even more uncomfortable and are likely to resist more.
Leaders in this scenario should make smaller changes to get small wins to hopefully spur hunger for more change – or at least stretch the comfort level for change again. Ease into it.
2. When there isn’t a culture for change.
Sometimes people are conditioned against change. Imagine a work environment where everyone wears the same colored pants and shirt every day – maybe black pants and white shirt uniforms. Remember IBM? I was raised to believe they had “uniforms” of black suits and white shirts. Since then I’ve read that they never had a policy of a strict dress code. It just sprang up as culture. I also read that changing the IBM culture took years.
Now obviously that was more of a style culture than a change culture, but when any culture is sameness leaders often have to address culture before they address change.