Have you ever wondered why some people seem to embrace change while others resist it with everything they have? Of course there are also many who fall somewhere in between.
The question is how do you enroll people — who are anywhere from overtly resistant to on the fence — to embrace an organizational change initiative, especially when the future of your organization or company depends on it?
By “embrace” I mean own it as though it were their idea and their responsibility to make it so. It's only those who own it who can and will lead the way to making that future a reality. For change to be successful you'll need others leading the way alongside you.
Here are 3 keys to gaining buy in when leading change
Own the change yourself
Now it may seem obvious that if you're leading the change, you already own it. Except you need to ask yourself are you willing to change? If you haven’t yet considered how you'll personally need to change for whatever change you're leading to be successful, consider that you don’t quite own it yet.
Ownership is personal. Until people see that you really understand the implications of what you're asking, and that you are honestly and courageously facing the change personally, it will be hard to enroll others in taking sincere ownership along with you.
2. Communicate to “we” vs. “they”
All too often a message about change is delivered in a way that leaves people with a lot of reasons why they must change or how they need to change. Remember that when someone isn’t the one choosing the change in the first place, resistance is a natural and predictable response.
As in any new endeavor, communication is key, so you must be mindful of your messaging. Anything you say that will be heard as “Why you should or must change” will only fuel the resistance.
Instead, when leading change, focus on making the case for why change will make a difference for us, and what it makes possible for everyone’s future if we change together. If you really want to send the message that you're serious, try sharing about how or what you can already see YOU will need to change.
3. Show, don’t tell
Leading change requires that you show people rather than just tell them about it.
Show them how the path you're proposing can serve what matters to them.
Show them you're committed to change by making changes yourself.
Show those who aren’t enrolled by empowering those who own the change with you to create short term wins that demonstrate the importance and power of the change you stand for, to create a better future.
How to lead change
It’s also important to acknowledge that you will never convince everyone to get on board. An unfortunate truth is often that a better future for your organization doesn’t always mean a better situation for every individual in the end.
Yet also remember that everyone does have a choice. Your job as a leader is to help people to see the choices they can make for their own best possible outcome, guide them in seeing the win-win opportunities and empower them to choose accordingly.
As a leader you also have significant choices to make because change always begins with you. Are you willing to take change personally and truly lead the way?