Over the last few months I have been in conversation with people who have found themselves at different stages along the spectrum of change – from those that are fearful and resistant; to those that are exhausted from efforts to make change happen; and to those that are in the midst of change - relishing it or rueing it!
Actual change and all that is contained within and around it is upon us all… as a result of circumstances (e.g.: relationships ending, or new ones beginning) or of choice (need or desire). Having coached and facilitated thousands of clients, teams and their organisations to become more deliberate, purposeful and own the change and progress positively through it I often return to principles that have served me well when I am challenged by change, stuck, resistant or confused.
Many years ago I was introduced to the three factors affecting the likelihood of change. When all three are present, change just happens, seamlessly and without resistance (from me or the situation). This thinking remains pertinent today:
1. Dissatisfaction with current state – if you are blissfully happy your propensity to change is almost nil - when there is some sense of unfulfillment or disillusion, or a glimmer of thinking about something better being possible, then the likelihood increases.
2. Vision of the future – if the future seems bleak or you have no belief in something new or the possibility of something better, then even dissatisfaction in the first factor won’t perpetuate change. As an appealing vision forms and belief builds it can have the power to increase the likelihood of change even when the current state is still acceptable.
3. First Steps– no matter how disgruntled you may be nor how compelling your future vision may be, if you don’t know where to start, or lack confidence in making a move – then change eludes you. And in that space doubt can return and pull down the first two factors!
If change is happening to you and it is hurting, if you or colleagues are revealing reluctance, resistance or doubt, consider the three factors. Anything you can do to increase your rating in each will make change simpler and your resistance will ease. Ask yourself or colleagues:
1. What about now is ready to upgrade? What no longer serves me/us? What am I ready to let go of?
2. What could be possible? What do I want to create? What situation would I like to be in?
3. Who has started the journey already? Who has been here before? What is easy to change?
And if you are leading others through change your leadership is important in all three factors, with empathy and awareness of each individual’s circumstances and relationship to the change. And your team members may be experiencing their own low ratings of these factors in different ways - some may have a supportive vision but fear letting go of now, others may be excitedly ready to get going, but lack clarity or doubt where your headed.
1. Inspire belief in their potential; stretch and support them; explore and communicate how the markets, communities and the world is changing.
2. Spend time building the vision and what it will mean for all; revisit it often; allow colleagues to interpret the vision their way; make it part of your everyday conversation.
3. Build support networks, mentors; capture early successes; share stories; make the first steps as easy as they could possibly be (e.g. just attend a meeting, brainstorm aspects of team activity to ‘stop-start-continue’, encourage conversations about doubts, fears and reluctance ).
Every leader must be able to adapt to the circumstances and provide what their team needs and every team, as with every person, is different and likely at a different relationship with change.
Adapting to the circumstances you are met with, noticing where each member is and shifting your approach demonstrates powerful leadership poise. Connect with them individually and collectively – with their anxieties and hopes – and be the consistency within their changing worlds.
The world is changing, keep it simple, rise up and be consciously and positively part of it.
P. S. I am off for a brief break sailing in the USA so please accept my apologies that our next podcast will be delayed and prepare yourself for a new sailing metaphor that is almost certain to arise! Whilst you wait, enjoy some of the previous podcasts – I hope you’ll find something that inspires you.