Will You Lead the Change?


Change can be hard, but it can also be exhilarating

If you lead anyone toward anything, then you fundamentally ARE leading change, 

So, it behooves you to understand a little bit about the psychology of change so that you can make every transition easier for those you lead.  

Let's discuss 3 pitfalls that so many leaders stumble into, and how to easily avoid them. 

Pitfall #1: Not creating clarity. 

In general, humans dislike uncertainty… and change creates uncertainty. But, there are ways that we can reduce the discomfort of uncertainty, by simply clarifying the process of change itself. 

Many leaders don’t acknowledge the degree of uncertainty and discomfort that can be created by even small changes, and therefore, they don’t take simple steps that could help reduce that discomfort for others.

Let me give you an example. 

Imagine that you have 2 teams coming together for a period of time to tackle a project. 

To you, as the leader, this may feel exciting and you might believe that everyone is perfectly suited for this, and they have all the skills they need to create their own team charter and make it work! 

But team members may still feel uncertain

  • They might be wondering about reporting relationships, and whether the other team culture is going to be a fit. 
  • They might be wondering if their own standards of work are going to have to change, or whether they will have to give up some autonomy. 
  • They might be wondering if they will be greeted with open arms, or met with resistance. 

And you might not know the answers to these concerns, nor may it even be useful or necessary for you to try to interfere with those details. 

But you can still clarify the process. 

You can tell them, “Team- I know this might be a little unclear, but let me walk you through the process.…” 

And then you can tell them about the timelines, and how you’re going to provide support as they work out their charter, and how you’re going to be there for them if they need you, etc. 

You don’t have to have all the answers- but clarifying the process itself will reduce some uncertainty.

Take the time to slow down and reassure others, and hold Q&A sessions so that folks can get their concerns on the table. These small shifts will help reduce uncertainty. 

Pitfall #2: Not thinking through the change, and therefore starting something that you can’t finish. 

Why is this a problem? People hate wasting their time. 

As a rule, people are willing to go to great lengths to achieve great things when they know that what they are working toward will be put into action and will make a positive difference. 

But when changes are launched without enough forethought, and then the plans that people painstakingly make are never implemented, it’s a soul killer. 

Do your team a favor, and make sure that when you ask them to make a change, that you are reasonably sure that their efforts will not go to waste. 

Vet the concepts upfront and get the approvals that you need so that you will not waste other people’s time, nor squander your own leadership capital, by asking people to do things that won’t come to fruition.

Pitfall #3: Failing to inspire and celebrate. 

Inspiration and celebration are like rocket fuel for teams- and yet, we overlook these simple practices in favor of simply getting started with the work or moving on to the next thing. 

Honestly, in my work with hundreds of teams in leading projects, one thing I hear leaders say over and over is, “we tend to ignore the celebration phase, but every time we do it, it’s amazingly powerful!” 

And it’s true. 

If you are leading a team, start with an inspiring shared vision of the future. Make sure that the vision really does speak to the values of the team, and that it calls people toward a noble outcome. 

Repeat it often and in many ways. 

And celebrate! Celebrate accomplishments all along the way! This is a powerful form of encouragement. Don’t skip it!

It doesn’t have to be grand. A simple recounting of the week’s trials and tribulations and successes and set-backs helps a team feel connected. 

It ignites the sense that we are part of something larger than ourselves, and it bonds people to each other and strengthens their commitment to the outcome. 

So- there you have it… 3 pitfalls that can easily be avoided.

  1. Not creating clarity
  2. Not thinking through the change, and therefore starting something that you can’t finish. 
  3. Failing to inspire and celebrate

You can avoid these pitfalls with small shifts in focus, which will yield a much better experience of work for your team. 

And if you want more, including a change leadership checklist, join me in my upcoming course, “Cultivating a Learning Culture and Leading Change.” 

You can get all the details at www.clairelaughlinonline.com/upcoming-events

See you next week!

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