When you hear the word change, what is the first thing you think of? Do you envision yourself walking off of a cliff blindfolded? Often when we hear the word changewe associate it with a negative thought or become fearful. Most of us are creatures of habit and routine and change brings uncertainty and the fear of the unknown. Leaders have an especially daunting task if they are trying to initiate and inspire change in the workplace. In John C. Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader within You 2.0”, chapter 4 suggests that first you must first be able to look within and change yourself before you can understand how hard it is to change the behavior of others.

One of a leader’s primary roles is to be a change agent. In bringing about change, there are two requirements: knowing the technical requirements, and understanding the attitude and motivational demands for bringing it about. Both are necessary, but when change doesn’t happen, it’s more often a lack on the motivational side, not on the technical side. People resist change for a lot of reasons. Effective leaders learn to recognize and address them. Some of those reasons are:

  1. It wasn’t their idea, so they lack ownership
  2. Fear of uncharted territory, which brings out people’s insecurities
  3. Lack of clarity regarding the purpose behind the change
  4. Fear of failure
  5. The rewards don’t match the effort required
  6. Followers lack respect for the leader
  7. Change may mean personal loss
  8. Change requires a lot commitment

Leaders must also learn to create a climate for change. In my experience, people don’t resist change; they resist “being changed.” But unless people are changed, change won’t happen in an organization. How do you create a climate where change can happen? Here are some ways to create a climate where people can change:

  1. The leader must develop trust with others
  2. The leader must make personal changes before asking others to change
  3. Show people how the change will benefit them
  4. Encourage mistakes

In the end, change is not easy for most.  But if you become the change you want to see, you will create a culture that is positive and in the end successful.  A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being. Remember, your employees spend more time at work than they do anywhere else. As a result, the work environment should be a place that not only allows them to get their jobs done but that makes them feel safe, at peace, and comfortable.

Change is on the forefront of everyone’s minds right now due to the crisis we are facing worldwide with the Coronavirus. The world will be forever changed in ways that none of us can predict right now. This subject seemed appropriate to discuss because the fear of change is not only present in the workplace, it is present in our personal lives as well. As mentioned above, we can all be leaders in our personal lives and create a positive culture at home just like we would in the workplace. Be a leader, be a change agent at home; you never know who you will inspire or put at ease.

Stay tuned for more blogs written about John C. Maxwell’s book “Developing the Leader within You 2.0”.  Next time we will be discussing the importance of a leader’s attitude and how it can affect your actions and impact those around you.