How many people does it take to create positive change and transformation?

“For everything you gain, you lose something.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

You may remember the cartoon in which the leader asks: “Who wants change?” and every hand is raised. Next, he asks “Who wants to change?” not one hand is raised.

We want the benefits of positive change without the pain of making any changes on ourselves. Why is that?

According to John C. Maxwell there are several reasons:

1) People feel awkward and self-conscious doing something new

We accustomed to thing, we have our way of doing around and doing things for example how you cross your arms in front of our chest, you have your natural way of doing that. To do it the other way around is hard and uncomfortable. And this is a tiny thing. Most of us are more comfortable with the old problems than new solutions because they represent the unknown. That is human nature.

How can you help your people develop their change-agility muscles starting with little changes and then building on them?

2) People initially focus on what they will have to give up

Naturally people first reaction to change “How is this going to affect me?” They straight away start worrying about what they have to give up, which is eventually going to happen. Leaders need to help people overcome this attitude. As Dr. Spencer Johnson put it we are very much become attached to our ‘Cheese’ (which is a metaphor for what we want and have in our life), and when we lose it or taken away from us, it can be traumatic.

How can you help your people realize that the cheese they are so attached to grow old? How can you help them to detach from these old cheese and start looking for new ones?

3) People are afraid of being ridiculed

People who do something different always run the risk of being mocked or ridiculed and that can be a great restrain to change.  Leaders have to aware that people have different levels of tolerance to ridicule.

Introduction of change require greater understanding and customization than anything else. How can you better tailor your change plans to your people’s need in order to get the best results?

4) People personalize change and may feel alone in the process even in an organisation

Although people in organisations are not alone in the process but they often feel that way. And their emotions and emotional reactions can overwhelm them. When anxiety rises, motivations fall. Then leaders can easily become impatient. People are always at different levels in their readiness to change. You have to give people time and allow them to process changes especially emotionally.

Working with the inner and outer saboteurs in transformation starts with the leader him/herself.

How can you show your own transformation journey in order to create momentum and encourage others to follow? How much are you aware of the emotional struggles your people going through due to the required change and transformation?

Going back to the initial question: How many people does it take to create positive change and transformation? – The answer is ONE PERSON according to John C. Maxwell who is willing to lead the people involved in making the changes, transformation happen. I absolutely agree. That is the essence or I would say the unique quality of Transformational Leadership.


Source: Developing the leader within you 2.0 by John C. Maxwell

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