Five Things Smart Leaders Do to Lower The Barriers To Change

Smart leaders understand that they don't "make" a change happen. They recognize that the people in their organization do the work, change behaviors, and, ultimately, make the change happen. They understand that their role is to make the change meaningful and easier to accept. Smart leaders facilitate change.

Let's look at five things smart leaders do to lower the barriers to change.

1. They sell more than they tell

Smart leaders are comfortable selling their ideas. They understand that "telling" someone what's going to happen is very different from "selling" them on the idea. I do not suggest that smart leaders use so called "high-pressure" sales tactics. By selling, I mean that they look for ways to get people emotionally committed to the change.

They paint, and re-paint, the vision for people. They focus on the benefits, not the costs. They understand that people need time to adjust, time to accept the change. They work to inspire buy-in rather than compliance.

2. They help people tune-in to WII-FM

Sales and marketing professionals talk about the radio station that most people tune-in to on a daily basis. They know about WII-FM (What's in it for me?).

If it's true about people in the marketplace, then it's true about people in the workplace. Smart leaders know how to answer the question on every employee's mind: "What's in it for me?"

Dr. Aubrey Daniels, noted behavioral analyst and author of Bringing Out the Best in People, makes two great comments regarding change acceptance:

- "People don't resist change, they resist being changed," and

- "People don't resist change if the change provides immediate positive consequences to them."

Smart leaders know that people are generally more willing to do things that bring personal benefit than they are to do things that benefit the organization. They take a pragmatic, not a cynical or negative, view of human nature. They see people for who they are and work to adjust their strategy to go with -- not against -- the natural drives of people in their organization.

3. They work through the "head grapes"

Every organization has a grapevine -- an unofficial communication channel that often moves faster than official ones. You might call the people who other people listen to, and therefore influence the grapevine, the "head grapes."

Smart leaders are not too impressed with themselves. They recognize that the head grapes have more personal influence within certain employee groups than they do. They understand leadership is about trust and relationship; it is not about position. Recognizing this truth, they seek out influencers in the organization. They strive to get the influencers onboard with the change. They understand the power of relationships, and they put that power to work. They work with the head grapes to affect change so that they don't have to push against the head grapes' resistance.

4. They break the change into "bite-sized" pieces

Smart leaders understand that people need both information and time to accept a change. They also realize that they can't wait forever to get everyone onboard. So, they break big changes into small pieces that people are willing to accept more quickly.

By moving in stages, smart leaders move their organizations with steady forward progress instead of periodic quantum leaps.

5. They build positive momentum

By breaking big changes into bite-sized pieces, smart leaders set themselves up to build positive momentum. Smart leaders know that an early failure or setback can create more resistance later -- even if they overcome the initial setback.

Building a record of quick, early wins helps people accept the upsets that will happen on the way to success. Smart leaders understand the power of momentum -- either positive or negative. They break changes into small pieces then pick their first move because it has a high-probability of success.

Copyright 2005, Guy Harris

Guy Harris is a Recovering Engineer. As the owner of Principle Driven Consulting, he helps entrepreneurs, business managers, and other organizational leaders improve team performance by applying the principles of human behavior. Learn more about Guy at http://www.principledriven.com

Guy co-authored "The Behavior Bucks System(tm)" to help parents reduce stress and conflict with their children by effectively applying behavioral principles in the home. Learn more about this book at http://www.behaviorbucks.com

Is Your Life Ready For Groundhog Day?

In the hit comedic movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's character, Phil Conners, is caught up... Read More

Managing Monsters in Meetings - Part 3, Drifting From the Topic

Although new ideas lead to creative solutions, they can be a challenge when they interrupt... Read More

Fighting the Gravitational Pull of Positional Leadership

A little on leadership?Many people enter the leadership world through a position and a title,... Read More

Precious Moments

There is too much learning out there that we earn drop by drop as we... Read More

Reinventing Failure: Designing Success

I am fascinated by problems. I like to think of myself as a solution oriented... Read More

The Synergy Effect

Have you ever considered that everything you want in life comes from someone else? The... Read More

Leadership Challenges: The Walls In Our Lives

We have all experienced walls or challenges in our work lives. How you handle the... Read More

Steps to Becoming a Good Leader

STEPS TO BECOMING A GOOD LEADER: 1. Develop a master plan. What are your goals?... Read More

In Leadership, Good Enough Is Pretty Bad

The first time I meet a leader to decide if we should work together, I... Read More

Leadership: Wisdom of the Ages

If you gather 100 experienced leaders together to share with you their most important secrets... Read More

The Seven Mistakes to Avoid when Organising Your Student Leadership Program

How do you measure the success of a training or teaching program? There are many... Read More

Leadership Skill Training

Quality leadership is a positive asset that is needed in every organization. Observe any successful... Read More

Career Advice for Business Leaders: Empowering Others

Many potential leaders in business sabotage themselves and their organizations out of fear of empowering... Read More

The Happy Jar

I just delivered a free speech. I am a great believer in free speech, but... Read More

Teen View of Leadership From Around the World

It has been stated that the world of tomorrow will be shaped by the leaders... Read More

On Being A Born Leader

"Leaders are born, not made." Right? Let me ask you a question: do you believe... Read More

What Kind of Leader Are You?

You are a leader if someone is following you. This could be as simple as... Read More

10 Ways to Develop Your Latent Leader

latent (adj.) ? Not visible or apparent, but capable of developing or being expressed; dormant.Everyone... Read More

Leadership Training: The Bit They Didn?t Tell You About Changing!

A willingness to change first is one of the major pre requisites for leaders!If the... Read More

Managing Monsters in Meetings - Part 4, Quiet Participants

There are many reasons why someone would decline to participate during a meeting. For example,... Read More

Effective Leaders are (#1) Conceptual

SEE INTO THE FUTURE CREATIVELY AND PRACTICALITY: Planning day-to-day is obviously important, but a good... Read More

The Seven Army Values - Theyre Not Just For The Military

The Army defines seven values that soldiers should strive to emulate in their daily lives.... Read More

It Begins Like This

Jonathan was drunk multiple times before ever completing elementary school; his father fed him bourbon... Read More

Pure Discipline

General George S. Patton was born on November 11, 1885 on his fathers ranch and... Read More

Abe Lincoln: An Extraordinary Leader

Perhaps noted as one of the greatest United States presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln's... Read More

Supervisor Training: Helpful Tips to Lead Your Pack

A new supervisor is hired to anchor a gardening project that has fallen apart. The... Read More

What Does Exceptional Business Success Require of Us?

To excel in business we need conscious command of all our faculties, mind, body and... Read More

Blowing Your Own Leadership Horn

There are two streams of competitiveness running through every organization. The first goes outward: It's... Read More

Communication Skills & Leadership - Organizational Communications Processes in Leadership Activity

"Sooth 't were a pleasant life to lead, With nothing in the world to do... Read More

Leadership Success and its Greatest Barrier: the Law of Administrivia

Years ago, a very wise, and often cynical boss of mine asked me for a... Read More

The Personality of Leadership

Have you ever wondered what type of person or personality makes the best leader? Most... Read More

Getting Things Done, Without the Sweat!

How do you get your people on your side? And once their on your side,... Read More

A Call to Men to Live a Strenuous Life!

Any man would be justly proud to claim even a portion of what Teddy Roosevelt... Read More

Being an Extraordinary Leader Through Tough and Challenging Times

Tough and challenging times will surely come. That is a given. The question is what... Read More

The Four Laws Of Leadership (Part One)

Leadership is motivational or it's stumbling in the dark. After all, isn't it more effective... Read More

Develop a We Focus And Not a Me Focus

____________________________________________"There's only one thing more contagious than a good attitude ? and that's a bad... Read More

The Leadership Vacuum

In today's fast moving, ever changing, and highly competitive world there is a vacuum of... Read More

UNCLOS III Process model

The United Nations Conference on Law of the Sea was ground breaking in the way... Read More

Choose To Become An Encourager

"...I know that the only source of happiness is within me, and I will begin... Read More

5 Power Keys For Leadership Success!

Did you know that you can successfully handle most leadership challenges with just 5 simple... Read More

The SAMMER Test: Leading People To Get The Right Results At the Right Time In The Right Way

As a leader, you do nothing more important than get results. But simply getting results... Read More

Leadership, Self-Development, and the Committment to Growth

There is a common phrase that says: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."... Read More

A Whack Up Long Side The Head Of Human Resources: The Leadership Imperative

When we perceive the simple center in the seemingly complex, we can change our world... Read More

Having Fun In Leadership

"Don't measure your life by your goals, but rather by what you are DOING to... Read More

Get What You Want - Negotiating Skills for the Timid!

OK, I know this title sounds self-serving and hard nosed, but the article isn't! Whether... Read More

Embracing Adversity for Achievement

"Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I'll show you someone who has... Read More

Leadership and Followership in a Team Setting

Many solopreneurs work in a team environment either with their client's staff, or with subcontractors.... Read More

Introduction to the The Enneagram as a Leadership Tool

The Enneagram is a fascinating tool of nine orientations that enables us to gain insight... Read More

What Makes A Good Leader? Ask Uncle Sam

What do the major generals who are leading the war efforts in Iraq have in... Read More

Boy Scouts of America and Leadership Coaching

The Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness talks with Dennis St. Jean, Assistant Director Professional... Read More