Change Expectations

Robert Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leading is leveraging influence, inspiration, and information to motivate progress. Most progress involves change, so what should leaders expect when they launch a new initiative?

Expect inconsistent commitment. Some on your team will be early advocates for your decision or strategy, but typically, most will need more information or time before committing. While your whole team is compelled to participate in implementing your plan, it will be impossible for it to succeed if most of them don’t care. If your team isn’t committed to owning, and being accountable for, the direction you’ve proposed, then your highest priority is to change that.

Expect fear. Because your initiative creates change, it’s unknown outcome will raise resistance. The uncertainty will produce a feeling of incompetence within the team; they may realize that something must be done, but they don’t yet understand how they will do it or the impact it will have on them. To reduce the fear that underlies their resistance, foster a dialogue within the team about why the change is necessary, and then engage with them to assess how they might implement it.

Expect a lack of context. Your experience with similar challenges is why you expect your decision or direction to succeed. You understand what came before, what’s next, how it works, and the language of your market; but you can’t be sure that the same is true for most of your team. So, as you discuss the change with them, invest more time on exploring context, and less time on tips and bullet points, to deepen their understanding of your rationale. This interaction will also boost their commitment.

What are your expectations before launching a change initiative?

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