When there’s a massive crisis and the building is burning down it’s quite easy to get people to embrace change. But, when the need isn’t urgent, proactive change is really hard to make happen.
I just finished teaching a module in our Leadership Education program about this with a simple little book that has an incredible impact on leadership effectiveness during change.
Our Iceberg is Melting by John Kotter, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, is a story about penguins whose iceberg home is melting away and the need to get them to move to a new place.
A short read, this book gives you a real understanding of why people resist change. In addition, it offers up an eight-step process to practically and emotionally get people on side.
Reading the book, you can see why so many people (including ourselves) resist change. They constantly say no no no, either with their mouths, their actions or with passive resistance. One of the characters in the book is actually called Nono – the penguin who criticizes ideas.
During the debate phase, Nono’s are absolutely valuable but many leaders try to dismiss them or quiet their voices early in the process, which can take things backwards. But, if you handle Nono resistors right, they can switch to yes yes yes and embrace change. It’s a high bar and hard to do but, as leaders, that is our role.
Not Just the Facts
When I read the book I was struck by how much we underestimate the idea that getting people to change is based on emotion, not facts. We always talk to leaders and executives about making fact-based decisions. However, the true secret to unlocking the ability to make change is understanding people’s emotional reactions, fears and anxieties.
All those practical spreadsheets and logical presentations are useless until people emotionally feel the need to change for themselves.
- If you and your team haven’t read it yet, Our Iceberg is Melting is a great book to understand change.
- Where do you notice resistance to change that, in the end, could be very positive?
CEOs typically place their first call to Coach Kevin with a crisis to solve. They stay because of his business acumen and no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-it-is style.
Kevin’s career spans 20 years, over a dozen countries and four continents. He’s worked with hundreds of CEOs and executives, helping them to break through business challenges, grow their companies and find personal success along the way.
These experiences inspired Kevin’s book, Your Oxygen Mask First, in which he reveals the 17 habits every leader must know to transcend the perils of success, and achieve even more.
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