It sounds so easy and almost 'endearing' when people say to a client in coaching…
“Everyone thinks of changing the world,
but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy
According to many publications and my own empiric ‘evidence’, most of all change initiatives fail. The simple question is: Why do you think this is happening? Is it lacking definition, process, procedure, or could this somehow have to do with how a leader personally views, accepts, or rejects change?
It is interesting to see that there are still leaders, who doubt who decides, when it comes to change. I often suggest leaders to look back at a time when they actually tried to make someone change. When these leaders imagined to roll-out some new directive through a ‘Friday afternoon email’, or any other ‘directive’ which fell through in its effectiveness.
Initiatives like this turn into a major cause of leadership frustration, excessive organisational stress, team dysfunction and even executive burn-out – just to name a few.
Over the years as a practicing international executive leader and currently in my role as an executive coach, working with executives and professionals on leadership development and performance management (including burn-out), I often get questioned on change.
More particular on the reasoning behind people’s own ability or reluctance to change. Leaders are often entirely focused on their relationship with the outside world – not realising, while they are doing so, they are quite disturbing their own inner world.
First, I personally belief there is so much stigma around the word change, for it to be better banned from professional language – about the answer to what to call it instead more later on in this article. I have experienced countless leaders and team members who advocated to me that they personally liked to change. I have written about this before in earlier articles. Let me once again be very clear about this: No one likes to change – no matter what people say.
Secondly, asking people if they do like to change, is like asking them if they want to live? Most people do not want to sound naïve and answer “yes” to both these questions. In my view, people are not integrally thinking (using our left and right brain integrally) when answering this type of questions.
Thirdly, all people, me included, project the lack of safety and uncertainty in the future unknown. People are continuously focused on making the uncertain less insecure – in business we call this intellectually ‘risk management’. People are focused on the value judgment of the impending change and what it potentially could mean to them. Last time it did go well, but how about this time?
The subconscious mind is masterfully releasing associated negative memory bits, forming a worst-case scenario movie-trailer on what is about to happen. Despite all its wonderful qualities, the subconscious mind can only derive (past) images/sounds from one’s vast audio-visual database (memory). So, the ‘protective question’ quickly becomes – Yes, but what if?
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