Embracing Change

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How Great Leaders Get People On Board

Change is inevitable, but it is also hard. Great leaders understand this and don’t pretend otherwise. However, they also know that change, when embraced with the right mindset, can be a catalyst for growth and innovation. The best leaders get people on board with change by creating an environment where change is a natural part of the organization’s DNA.

Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” This quote highlights the need for fresh thinking, especially when faced with challenges or problems. If we want things to change, we have to change. This personal change is the starting point for any successful change initiative.

Here are some ways to help alleviate internal resistance to change and better seize its opportunities:

  1. Know Your “Why”

One of the main reasons change programs fail is that people don’t understand why they’re being put through the ringer. Leaders must be clear in their own heads about the big “why” behind the change they’re spearheading and be able to articulate it clearly to their team. By explaining the larger context and what’s at stake if change doesn’t happen, leaders can help their team see how their role and the changes being made make sense within the larger scheme of things.

  • Over-Communicate the Vision

People need to hear from the leader more often than you might think. Leaders should walk the halls, be visible, and regularly communicate what’s going on. Make the goal plain and easily understandable. Set clear directions for the future, specific role expectations, and never assume that something is “obvious” when you’re moving through change.

  • Change Can and Should Be Fun

Change should be a part of the DNA of the team. Approach change as “a lot of fun.” Leaders should be upbeat and optimistic, helping to leverage the energy some team members may feel and alleviate any anxiety others may have about what lies ahead. Leaders serve as the emotional barometer, so consider how you can act in ways that help those around you be more focused, adaptable, decisive, and optimistic.

  • Protect Your People and Make Change Safe

Leaders need to create a psychological safety net that breeds confidence in knowing that should they fail or make a mistake, they’ll be okay. Reassuring people that their risks won’t be punished helps to offset their fear and fosters the creativity necessary for innovation to really flourish.

  • Acknowledge Fear of Change

Great leaders don’t pretend that the uncertainty of change is going to be easy sailing. As a leader, acknowledge concerns, both the spoken and unspoken, and the discomfort of being in unfamiliar territory. Keep people focused on what is within their control, and have a “don’t worry, we’ll get through this” attitude. Help people to know that you’ve got their back.

  • Encourage Calculated Risk-Taking

People are wired toward caution. When making decisions, we have a tendency to err on the side of caution. Leaders should encourage their team to take calculated risks, emphasizing that failing fast is better than not taking action at all. This mindset creates a culture of innovation and experimentation, where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn and grow.

In conclusion, change is a necessary part of personal and organizational growth. Great leaders embrace change and create an environment where change is a natural part of the organization’s DNA. By knowing the “why” behind the change, over-communicating the vision, approaching change as fun, protecting your people, acknowledging fear of change, and encouraging calculated risk-taking, leaders can get people on board with change and drive innovation and growth. Remember, if you want things to change, you have to change first.


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