Change Leadership Secret – 53 – Don’t Blow A Gasket

Change Leadership — Secret # 53
Don’t Blow A Gasket

The world belongs to the enthusiast who keeps cool.
—William McFee

What I Need to Know

During the twentieth century, Norman Vincent Peale was considered one of the most influential evangelists of the power of a positive mental attitude. Taking a more scientific approach, Kurt Lewin also cited research that showed people who perceived an ability to control outcomes reported a higher level of satisfaction with the outcomes than those who perceived a lack of control.

I am sure I am “preaching to the choir” when I mention the need for a change leader to be motivational and to inspire stakeholders to embrace and implement change. The change leader must be the stabilizing influence who always maintains a positive mental attitude. However, the change leader must couch her positive mental attitude and enthusiasm with a certain level of detachment and the constant awareness that she is the agent of change, not the cause or the driving force of the change.

In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge talks about advocacy versus inquiry as he describes the characteristics of a learning organization, that is, an organization with a high capacity for change. In the Change Leadership Framework, the change leader’s primary role is that of inquirer—inquiring into the forces that influence the person or the organization. The change leader’s secondary role is that of the advocate—advocating the changes and resulting outcomes desired by the client.

What I Need to Do

You, the change leader, must do all of this—maintain a positive mental attitude, be inspirational, be an advocate, be an agent employed by the client—all while remaining emotionally detached and objective. As soon as the change leader becomes emotionally enmeshed with the change proposals, he loses objectivity, perceptiveness, effectiveness, and credibility—he has become one of the stakeholders on the playing field, rather than the “invisible hand” that guides stakeholders to their desired outcomes.

Go ahead and inquire into the benefits of changing. Go ahead and play back the client’s vision of how beautiful things will be after the change is made. Go ahead and be an advocate of reason and an engine of action. Just be mindful of the boundaries of the engine’s cylinder and pressure. Don’t blow a gasket and blow up the change initiative by overstepping these bounds.

Action Summary

  • Be reasonable.
  • Be supportive.
  • Be detached.
Change Leadership Secret - 53 Don't Blow A Gasket


  1. Well said!

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