Why I Couldn't Make His People Change

Why I Couldn't Make His People Change

Why I Couldn't Make His People Change

A while back, I was on a phone call from a prospective client who was looking to “book a speaker who would make my people want to change.”

The caller was the vice president of a large company going through a substantial transformation - and the following conversation showed that he didn’t know the first thing about leading change.

I asked him if the people he wanted to embrace the change understood why. Did they agree with the business rationale behind the change? Had they been involved with designing the change - and did they have any control over its rollout?

The long pause on the other end of the line spoke volumes.

Which only shows how far we still need to come in our change-leadership practices. There are four lessons we can all learn from this conversation:

  1. The folks who report to you aren’t “your people.” The intelligent and talented people on your team belong to no one but themselves.

  2. Save your money. No speaker can “make them want to change.” But they are perfectly capable of understanding and deciding for themselves whether or not to support a proposed transformation.

  3. In order for people to make an informed decision, they need to be trusted with all the relevant information about the change – the competitive and economic pressures, customer feedback, other alternatives considered and rejected, what the goal is that we are trying to reach - and why we are trying to reach it. Perhaps most importantly, people need to know how it will impact them and their role in the organization.

  4. People tend to like and support changes that they create – and they certainly want to have a sense of control over their own destinies. The most effective transformational strategies any leader can use are those that include people in designing the change and developing its process.

At least that’s been my experience. What's yours?

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Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

Leadership Expert

Carol is an international keynote speaker at conferences, business organizations, government agencies, and universities. She addresses a variety of leadership issues, but specializes in helping leaders build their impact and influence skills for fostering collaboration, building trust, and projecting that illusive quality called "leadership presence." She is the author of "STAND OUT: How to Build Your Leadership Presence." and the creator of LinkedIn Learning's video course, "Body Language for Leaders." Carol completed her doctorate in the United States. She can be reached at http://CarolKinseyGoman.com

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