Leading Change

My friend Ellis shared this quote at a recent Leadership Summit:

“Change is like surfing: You either catch the wave or the wave catches you”.

We’re not sure where that quote originated from, but the idea has been in front of us all for all of time.

Change happens. How we respond to change makes all the difference.

My wife Gina was sharing with me “The Transtheoretical Model”, which she studied in grad school. Basically, it’s the stages of change that we all go through. It can be simply described this way:

Stage 1: PRE-CONTEMPLATION:  No intention on changing behavior

Stage 2: CONTEMPLATION: Aware a problem exists, but no commitment to action

Stage 3: PREPARATION: Intent on taking action

Stage 4: ACTION: Action around changing behavior

Stage 5: MAINTENANCE: Sustained change: New behavior replaces old

Stage 6: RELAPSE: You fall back into old patterns of behavior

It’s then an upword spiral, learning from each cycle, each change, and each relapse.

Here’s a simple version that defines this cycle, without the relapse stage:

OK, so now you understand a little of the cycle of change. I encourage you to dig a little deeper.

How do you, as a leader, handle change?  Do you embrace it? Do you welcome it? Do you run from it?

Forbes Magazine published an article on “Fear of Change and 6 Ways to Overcome It” by August Turak. I’ll summarize here:

Turak shares these 6 ways to overcome fear:

Step 1: Be Compassionate: Realize that there are risks involved with change and everyone will be affected.

Step 2: Build a Bottom-Up Consensus: Bring people along in the process, and help them embrace it.

Step 3: Have a Plan for Getting Initial Buy-In: Do the work of planning and evaluation. This helps people embrace it.

Step 4: Minimize your Risks: Take some small steps to test the change before diving in. Evaluate along the way.

Step 5: Measure Results with Hard Data: Show how the change benefitted the organization or had little impact. Prove the effort.

Step 6: Feedback: Allow people to weigh in on their perspective to the change.

Every leader needs to determine how they will deal with change. Change will come. The difference is that as a leader, how you respond or react to change will affect more people then just yourself. You are responsible for others, or a department, for the organization.

I love this quote from Maya Angelou:  “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

No matter what, change comes. How you lead people through that process will often make a bigger impact than the change itself.


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