Change Leadership Secret – 94 – Be the Skeptic Who Always Believes

Change Leadership — Secret # 94
Be the Skeptic Who Always Believes

The clearest sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

What I Need to Know

In assessing and convincing stakeholders what is achievable, the change agent needs almost to have two personalities. One personality should be the promoter who inspires everyone to action with exciting visions of what is possible. The other personality should be the skeptic who questions what is realistic and achievable and sets expectations based on the philosophy of “underpromise and overdeliver.”

Basically, one personality, or “role,” needs to convince people to “buy” and the other personality needs to deliver. One reason a change leader is so much more valuable than a solution provider is that the change leader fulfills both roles. The change leader is operating objectively with the client’s best interest in mind.

After all the healthy skepticism, objectivity, and enthusiasm, when it comes to change actuation, the change agent is “the device that develops force and motion from an available energy source.” What is that energy source? It is that smiling fountain of energy that looks at you in the mirror. So above all, in order to actuate others, the change leader must fully believe in the changes she is leading. Think of yourself as Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. When Tom is asked to paint the long fence in front of the house, he does this laborious chore with such enthusiasm that he charges his friends for the privilege of painting the fence for him.

What I Need to Do

Change-centric selling is very different from traditional selling where salespeople may be inclined to “dump and dash”—dumping the solution and dashing for the door.

Change-centric selling focuses on the change—the outcome—the customer is trying to achieve. Therefore, you cannot simply sell the customer an armful of goods and say, “Good luck with that.” Your job is not done until the customer has successfully made the change.

Think of yourself as having two personalities. One personality is the skeptic who knows he must deliver on his commitments. The other personality is the actuator who energizes the customer and spurs him into action.

The trick is to balance these two perspectives and not fall into a rut where you overemphasize one over the other.

Remember: You must believe. And you must deliver.

Action Summary

  • Set realistic expectations and then exceed them.
  • Identify motivated stakeholders who will actuate the change.
  • Assume that you are the only source of energy you can count on.
Change Leadership Secret - 94 Be the Skeptic Who Always Believes

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