The market is littered with once great companies that could not change as needed to meet new business realities. With the pace of change accelerating, leaders seek to direct it rather than just adapt to it.

Bob Schultek
Author of The Gauntlet

But change raises fear and anxiety, which is why leading others effectively through the journey of transformation is one of the most challenging, and necessary, leadership responsibilities. The fear of change grows as people consider the risks of the unknown, questioning whether where you want to lead them is better than where they are now. Will the future be better than the present? 

These 3 tactics help leaders overcome the fear of change that can paralyze their people and impede progress: 

  1. Sell the desirable future.
    People must grasp the benefits of the change before they will accept it.  Identify the advantages related to the needed change, explain how these benefits outweigh the risks, and describe why the desirable future is better than the current reality. Consider who is impacted by the proposed change – who is rewarded by it and who is punished. Then make the new change desirable by rewarding employee performance that conforms to the required behavior.
  2. Over communicate.
    Most of us need to hear points and counterpoints more than once before we finally understand. Reinforce the need for the required change by communicating your message several times through the spoken and written word. Tell stories that illustrate your message. Then, listen to what your people say, and what they don’t say, before responding. Let your response communicate your commitment to them and the change, by advising them know that you are now, and will continue to be,with them throughout this change to alleviate their concerns.
  3. Walk the talk.
    Model the change behaviors that you expect from your people. From their perspective, if you do not believe in the change enough to implement the required behaviors yourself, then why should they. Leading by example generates credibility for your leadership and reinforces the case for change. If your people need training and tools, then ensure that they have these. People’s fear of change is often grounded in their concern that they will be unable to perform as well as they have in the past. Modeling expected behaviors and providing needed training and resources increases the confidence necessary for your people to implement the required change.

Help those you lead to overcome their fear of change. Explain why the benefits outweigh the risks, train them as necessary, reward them for their change efforts, and walk-your-talk. 

What methods are you using to help 
your people implement needed change?

What could you be doing to accelerate 
their acceptance and participation in a change effort?