Change Leadership Secret – 92– Where There Is Change, There Is Conflict

Change Leadership — Secret # 92
Where There Is Change, There Is Conflict

A diamond is a chunk of coal that made good under pressure.
—Anonymous

What I Need to Know

Business is war. Or at least, there are those who think it is. As a change agent, you are often at the front line of that war.

The bigger the perceived importance of the change you are involved with, the more crossfire to which you may be exposed. There are many ways and reasons that you can be hit by the crossfire. For example, people may think that if they can slow you down, they can slow down the change. Or they may see you as an agent of the “enemy.”

Also, change can be an emotionally charged process, invoking powerful feelings associated with death and deeply seated anxieties. You may get caught in the middle of those internal conflicts and may even be a lightning rod for people’s emotions.

Weathering those conflicts can be extremely difficult and taxing for the change agent. Symptoms of change agent fatigue include feelings of:

  • Isolation—no one seems to be on your side.
  • Helplessness—nothing you do seems to work
  • Confusion—not knowing what to do next
  • Questioning your value—wondering whether you are wrong
  • Despair—considering giving up

What I Need to Do

First, don’t take anything personally. This is easier said than done, unless you have a neurotic level of self-confidence. The best way to keep a cool head is to focus on staying aligned with your client.

Second, remain detached. This is not only a coping strategy to help in not taking the conflict personally; it is also a way to stay out of the conflict. If at times you feel as if you are in a professional football game on the line of scrimmage with 300-pound players all around you, imagine instead that you are in a press box high above the football stadium. Then, observe. Where are the players throwing their blocks? What play are they using from the playbook?

Third, fear not. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” This could not be truer than in change leadership. If you imagine yourself as a ghost or commentator high above the playing field, then you cannot get hurt and you will have nothing to fear. Being fearless and being unintimidated makes you a far more effective change agent

Action Summary

  • Be prepared for conflict—don an imaginary bulletproof shield.
  • Remain detached and do not participate in the conflict.
  • Stay aligned with your client—she’s the boss.
Change Leadership Secret - 92 Where There Is Change, There Is Conflict

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