Change Leadership Secret – 84 – Two Roots of Evil & Failure

Change Leadership — Secret # 84
Two Roots of Evil & Failure

Communicate, communicate, and then
communicate some more. —Bob Nelson

What I Need to Know

In the manufacturing and engineering worlds when something goes wrong, people try to understand why, so it can be fixed. The goal is to start with the symptom of the failure and work backward to find the original, or root, cause of the problem. If you performed failure analysis on all the projects that went “bad,” you would likely find two root causes in most cases: insecurity and lack of communication. These two human frailties can sink any initiative.

In Forceful Selling, I discussed the notion that people are either fundamentally secure (S) or insecure (I)—what I called “Theory S” and “Theory I.” Theory I people are dangerous because they easily feel threatened—and then they protect themselves by going on the attack. In the best case, their sometimes subtle and clandestine attacks put a huge drag on the change initiative. In the worst case, they succeed in dismantling it altogether.

The other common cause of failure is a failure to communicate. Theory I people may withhold information as a covert tactic. But, more often, communication errors are unintentional. People may be busy and neglect to communicate. Or people may fall prey to the false consensus bias whereby they assume other people have the same information and understanding as they themselves have.

What I Need to Do

Be superattentive and vigilant in identifying behavior that is driven by insecurities or bad communication.

Identify insecurity-driven behavior by looking for common clues such as close-mindedness, aggressiveness, personal attacks, illogical reasoning, and unwillingness to listen.

Try to nip anxieties before they can bud: proactively reassure stakeholders of their position, their value, their importance to the success of the change, and how they will benefit from the change. Be specific and concrete in your statements. Fluffy, hand-waving assurances without specific facts will only inflame anxieties.

Err on overcommunicating views and status among stakeholders to avoid miscommunications.
Implement practices that stimulate stakeholders to share views frequently (e.g., weekly meetings, daily five-minute briefings, real-simple-syndication feeds, etc.).

Action Summary

  • Develop plans to mitigate anxieties.
  • Develop plans to contain Theory I influence and damage.
  • Implement practices to facilitate strong communication.
Change Leadership Secret - 84 Two Roots of Evil & Failure

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