Change is arguably an indivisible part of true leadership.
Every administration usually has something new to introduce in their leadership style or pattern and this involves a change in one way or another, but most times, leaders are confronted with resistance in the process of implementing these changes.
Resistance to change manifests itself in diverse ways, from procrastination and reluctance to petty sabotage and outright defiance.
Why Do People Resist Change?
Loss Of Control
Change can hinder freedom and make people feel as if they have lost control of their domain. It’s not about politics or power monopoly.
When faced with the possibility of change coming from others, our right to self-determination is often the first thing to go. Smart leaders leave the choices to those affected by the change. By giving ownership, they invite others to plan.
Too Many Uncertainties
If change is like walking on a highway blindfolded, people will reject it. People often prefer to be mired in misery rather than step into the unknown.
As the saying goes, “better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know.” Overcoming resistance to change requires a vision that inspires and also stability.
Leaders must clearly define their process and attach workable steps and realistic timelines.
No one likes decisions being shoved down their throat especially when they are new to them.
People require time to get themselves acquainted with the idea or be equipped for the outcome.
Leaders should desist from secretly drafting changes and declaring them en masse. It’s good to give hints and seek information about what might happen.
It is expected that change conveys something different, but how different? We as humans easily get accustomed to routines where everything becomes automatic.
Change awakens our consciousness, sometimes in undesirable ways. Too much disparity between what used to be “our normal” and “a new normal” can be distracting or confusing.
Leaders should aim at minimizing nonessential differences induced by transitional change. Prioritize what’s vital and keep it as agreeable as possible.
Fear of Being Defaced
Change has to do with an exit from the past. People involved with contemporary versions, probably one that doesn’t cohere with them, are more likely to be on the defensive. When a change involves a major shift in strategic direction, those responsible for the previous direction are worried that they might lose face.
Leaders can help people maintain their dignity by celebrating elements of the past that deserve respect.
People resist change when they doubt the capacity of the leader or sense that he might be incompetent.
This is where a good transparent leadership structure comes in.
Leaders must invest heavily in structural trust by providing a wealth of information, education, training, mentoring, and support systems.
An overlapping period in which both systems are running concurrently helps facilitate the transition.
Change really is more work. This is a universal truth. People closest to change easily get dazzled by how unpredictable and inevitable failures are in the middle of change and this invariably means more work.
Leaders should recognize efforts to make a difference by adding extra perks for members. Individuals who also help implement these changes from behind the scene should be acknowledged and compensated.
The ripple effect seen when a pebble is thrown into a pond is a typical example of what happens with change. change creates a wave effect that reaches distant points in an ever-expanding circle. These waves begin to disturb various divisions, enterprises and regions, interfering with their activities.
Leaders must broaden the circle of stakeholders. All affected parties, no matter how far apart, must be considered and work done to minimize disruption.
Grievances Of The Past
The past usually lay back waiting to haunt its offenders. When everything is steady, they stay out of sight. But when collaboration is required for something new, the past appears. Old wounds are reopened and historical grievances are remembered. Sometimes it goes back several generations. Leaders should consider the gesture of healing the past before sailing into the future.
What can leaders do when faced with ubiquitous resistance?
The best approach for a change leader is to understand the predictable and universal sources of resistance in all situations and to strategise around them.
Leaders may not always make people feel pleased with the change, but they can reduce the pain and affliction that it might cause.
Diagnosing the source of resistance is the first step to making the right decision. Resistors’ feedback can also help improve the change acceptance process.