Change Leadership Secret – 38 – Comfort The Mules

Change Leadership — Secret # 38
Comfort The Mules

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s
inexorable imperative. —H. G. Wells

What I Need to Know

The fifth change-type is the “Mule.”

The Mule is reluctant to change. The Mule may have slightly more anxieties than the Chameleon, but like the Chameleon, the Mule is not driven by anxiety. Unlike the Chameleon, however, the Mule is naturally uncomfortable with change. She values consistency, familiarity, and safety and has relatively low openness. She does not necessarily lack self-esteem, but she does lack the courage to be bold in exploring the unknown. To the Mule, the unknown seems mysterious so she prefers to rely on others to report their findings. Although the Mule could exhibit a high level of activity, those activities are tightly constrained, and she is not considered action-oriented compared to the Chameleon, Geese, and Beaver. The Mule has a low tolerance for risk, and if she perceives a change as a threat to her safety, the Mule may vehemently resist that change. The figure below shows the Mule’s profile.

What I Need to Do

While Mules are reluctant to change, they do not refuse to change. Their change response is limited to only the strongest forces. They cope with weaker forces through denial or devaluation. This leaves you with two choices:

1. Suggest only the smallest of changes to Mules.
2. Suggest changes that respond to only the most powerful of forces.

Your success in selling a change that falls between those two extremes will be limited at best. Therefore, your first task is to qualify the Mule and disengage if the Mule perceives your product or service to be in the middle.

Your chief task is to help the Mule feel comfortable with the change process. Do this by increasing her familiarity as much as possible, using demonstrations, references, white papers, videos, and so on. Also, reinforce the dissatisfactions of the status quo and the benefits of the change, being as visual as possible.

Action Summary

  • Engage mules only with very small changes or changes that address their most powerful perceived forces.
  • Disengage if you are perceived as addressing a medium-sized force.
  • Focus on increasing the Mule’s comfort level.
Change Leadership Secret - 38 Comfort The Mules
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About Brett Clay

Clay is the author of “Selling Change,” named the best business book and best sales book of 2010, and is the CEO of Change Leadership Group, LLC, a firm that helps clients improve their sales, marketing, and leadership capabilities. A veteran of 20 years in international sales and marketing management, most recently with Microsoft Corporation, he is an award-winning author, award-winning marketer, trainer, speaker, consultant, and business leader.

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