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Navigating & Promoting Change

March 16, 2015

Navigating change is one of today’s most complex leadership issues. Like a captain sailing a ship into unknown waters, the leader must consider the costs of changing course, get all hands on deck and move the ship onward.  This process involves awareness, alertness and action, plus the ability to use persuasion to promote change.

Practicing Awareness, Alertness & Action

Awareness

It’s essential to be aware of shifts occurring in one’s world, industry, community and home.  An aware individual has an understanding of changes taking place globally, nationally or regionally that impact one locally and personally.

Alertness

As the leader maintains an awareness of change, he or she must also be alert to threats and opportunities that emerge from these larger shifts. From mega trends to micro-trends to tipping points, new problems or possibilities for business development often result from change.

Action

When new possibilities appear on the horizon, the leader, management team and other stakeholders must be ready and willing to take action and evade threats or seize opportunities.

Using Persuasion to Promote Organizational Change

As the leader, you’ll have to address organizational stakeholders about significant upcoming change. Because people and organizations get stuck in comfort zones, and are often resistant to new directions, it’s essential to make a strong persuasive case for change.  You’ll need to be knowledgeable and able to respond to questions from board members, followers, customers and, possibly, the media.

Recognizing Resistance to Change

In Resistance to Change – Why It Matters and What to do about It (2009,) change management expert Rick Maurer states that about two-thirds of all major changes in organizations fail, which is very  sobering information. According to Maurer, executives in Fortune 500 companies said that resistance was the primary reason changes failed.  Maurer identifies three forms of resistance as:

  •  I don’t like it               (Emotional)
  • I don’t get it                (Logical)
  • I don’t like you           (Credible)

 

Making Your Persuasive Case

Making a persuasive case, and meeting these forms of resistance, involves getting the right mix of emotion, logic and credibility.  The following three ingredients should be included when using persuasion to promote change.

Emotional Appeal

Although emotional appeal can focus on “opportunity for gain,” research shows that opening your persuasive case with a negative statement geared towards “threat of loss” is more likely to get your audience’s attention (Denning, S., 2009). People are more likely to take action to evade loss than to embrace opportunity.  What kind of bad news can you state that will warn listeners of what happens if they don’t make the change?

Generally speaking, in order to work through “I don’t like it,” you will also need to address emotional concerns about change.  Create emotional appeal to enhance your logical argument through the use of stories, analogies, examples or other forms of communication that move people or play to their heart-strings.

Logical Argument

Once you’ve used a negative warning to get your audience’s attention, it’s time to promote a positive remedy or rescue.  The logical part of your persuasive case should be geared towards how, factually, things must change and how your plan can help the organization avoid loss or gain new ground or both.

In addition, making a reasonable argument for change, by using facts, figures, statistics, logic and other relevant intelligence helps you to address stakeholders who “don’t get it.”  These individuals need for you to make sense, connect the dots or provide more information.

Credibility

People don’t have to like you to follow your lead.  They just need to know they can trust your judgment on the subject and that doing so is in their best interests.  If you have a meaningful history with the group, or education, experience or credentials that give you credibility with them, now is the time to use it.  Credibility helps you overcome the resistance of “I don’t like you.”

To purchase and view Drinon Leadership Express go to:

http://www.drinonandassociates.com/dle30/

Resources & Recommended Reading

  • Denning, Stephen (2009-05-18). The Secret Language of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire Action Through Narrative (J-B US non-Franchise Leadership). Wiley. Kindle Edition.
  • com. (2004-2007) Discovery Report. Atlanta, GA: Personality Insights, Inc.
  • Dutton, Kevin (2011-02-03). Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition
  • Maurer, R. (2010). Beyond the wall of resistance. Bard Press: Austin, TX
  • Tucker, Patrick (2014-03-06). The Naked Future: What Happens in a World That Anticipates Your Every Move? Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.
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