Killing Change ~ Five Easy Pieces

With the ever increasing proliferation of ideas out there about how to achieve change, I thought Iʼd ʻgo the other wayʼ because after all, sometimes itʼs just as important to stop what isnʼt working to make room for what can . . . and will.

So, with a lighter touch . . .

Here are five of my favorite ʻchange killers,ʼ guaranteed to promote the very cynicism, disappointment, and resistance you donʼt want and canʼt afford . . .along with alternatives . . . what to do instead, of course.

A special thanks to clients — leaders and their consultants — whose wisdom of experience reflected here continues to inform and enlighten.

1) Promises, Promises!

As in . . . ʻThis change is going to be good for us, I promise!ʼ 

Uh huh. Expect plenty of skepticism. Fact is, the future canʼt be assured; your willingness to lead toward it, can be. So, instead of promises, define the outcomes youʼre willing to commit to, invite others to join you, and ask for plenty of help along the way. Your beliefs — what you stand for and why — will be your most compelling case for the future you want and your leadership of it.

2) Name that Change . . .

As in . . . ʻHenceforth the change effort shall be known as . . .ʼ

Really? And risk the lethargy engendered by yet another ʻflavor of the month?ʼ  Itʼs not the slogan that motivates. Itʼs you,  the decisions you make and the actions you take to insist on the improvements you want. Itʼs the adaptation to your leadership with the opportunity to contribute that most enables people to embrace the future, its challenges and opportunities.

3) Ask someone else to take your place . . .

As in . . . ʻ_________ is now the champion of . . . ʻ

Problem is, ever enthusiastic ʻchampionsʼ tend to over-perform at the expense of the very shared investment and accountability you had wanted of everyone . . . putting results in jeopardy with fewer involved in achieving and sustaining them. Instead, make yourself the ʻchampionʼ of the results you seek and  everyone else too. After all, the more hands active in change,  the more hands active in its success.

4) Play G-d . . .

As in . . . ʻI empower you to . . .!ʻ

Fair warning: may be experienced as a thinly veiled attempt to make others do what you want them to do. Expect plenty of cynicism; no one has that kind of power. People, however, can empower themselves with initiative and ingenuity to achieve extraordinary things . . . if you ask them what they need, then clear the way so they can. What could be more empowering that that?

5) Suck it up . . .

As in . . . ʻIʼll just do it myself . . . ʻ

At what cost? Doing more while others do less? Fatigue when youʼre the one putting out all the fires? Burnout when you no longer can? Whose ʻwork of worryʼ is it anyway for the ʻholesʼ youʼre plugging?  Better to pursue relationships of mutual accountability, getting at least as much help as youʼre willing to give. And, ‘insist’ on more for more of the ‘assist’ you want.

Enough? Donʼt do these. Donʼt even think about it. Stop before you get started. Spare yourself . . . spare others!

Got more ʻchange killersʼ of your own?  Post them and help prevent those ʻshouldnʼt haveʼ moments all too familiar to agents of change everywhere.

What's your thinking?