Change Leadership — Secret # 57
Qualify The Resistance
A problem adequately stated is a problem well on its
way to being solved. —R. Buckminster Fuller
What I Need to Know
People usually associate making changes with overcoming resistance. By now, you understand that every driving force has a resisting force and that any attempt at change will be met with resistance. Let’s look at some common sources of resistance:
Habits/homeostasis. Most people have a natural preference for keeping things as they are now and how they always have been.
Lack of familiarity. People seem to have a universal preference for things they know and understand.
Beneficiary of the status quo. Stakeholders who are benefitting quite handsomely in the current situation may fiercely resist changing the situation.
Conflicting goals. If a stakeholder has a different goal, that is, he is influenced by a different set of forces or has a different view of them, then he may resist the change.
Zero-sum game. Some people may hold the notion that if one person benefits, the others lose. Not wanting to lose, they resist.
Close-mindedness. Some people are simply not willing to listen to new ideas.
Anxieties. You know someone is operating based on anxieties when appeals to logic do not seem to work.
What I Need to Do
The first steps for handling resistance are:
Characterize the change response. As you characterize people, remember that you are characterizing their behavior. Your primary concern is to predict their actions. Will they proactively support the change in the next big stakeholder meeting? Will they passively support it and give a weak endorsement only if called on? If they are put under pressure, will they cover their neck or yours?
Speak softly and carry a big stick. What is the “big stick” that a change leader can carry? It is the support of the people who have the power to make the change happen. Remember the Change Leadership
Framework definition of power: the effort required to carry out the change. The change leader must have the support of the people who have the resources to execute the change.
Disengage. Every experienced salesperson understands the concept of disqualifying a prospect and moving on. The change leader needs to assess critically the power of the resisting forces, such as a person’s stubborn close-mindedness, and determine whether the best strategy is to invest the resources elsewhere.