Are Your Leaders Afraid of Change?

Are Your Leaders Afraid of Change?
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Are Employees or Leaders Afraid of Change?
Most change management consulting experts assume that employees have a natural resistance to change.  Data from our change management simulation backs up that claim.  When given options, the majority of employees prefer the status quo.  But are leaders afraid of change?

While employee change resistance can be lessened by increased levels of change urgency, a solid business case for change, and a high level of dissatisfaction with the current situation,  successful organizational change requires high levels of leadership clarity, alignment, and rigor.

How do company leaders feel about change ? even ones that they are initiating? Do they have the same natural resistance? And, if so, what are the consequences to the organization?

The Organizational Change Leadership Research
Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of over 1,000 employees in multiple industries across the nation. The question was how often employees saw their leaders challenge the current situation or ask workers to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective.

Only 3% said “always” while over 40% said “never or almost never.”

With so much lip service paid to the need and desire to manage change effectively in order to compete, how do these statistics strike you? And what does it mean to companies whose leaders simply manage and maintain the status quo without challenging it?

We believe that change is something that every company needs to learn how to embed in their leaders and cultural DNA if they want to perform at their peak. Do you have enough effective change leaders?

Why Some Leaders Fear Change
Based upon data from our change management simulation, here are some key reasons leaders avoid initiating real transformation. Leaders who do not challenge existing foundations are typically:

  1. Risk Averse
    Risk is a necessary component of forging a new path. No one can predict the future with certainty. But leaders should have the ability to assess the current state, feel reasonably confident about the future state, and make a calculated decision about which path to take.

    Leaders need to do their best to anticipate the unexpected and to create an environment that embraces and adapts to change as needed to execute their strategic priorities.

    To mitigate a risk adverse leadership mindset, invest the time in scenario planning to truly understand the pros and cons of change.
  2. Uncertain of Where to Start
    When the business is mired in the complacency of the status quo, leaders need to be willing to shake things up. They must encourage an entrepreneurial mindset so that it becomes part of the culture where all employees work toward improving systems, processes, and their own behavior.

    To mitigate a slow starter leadership mindset, invest the time for current state analysis so that everyone is on the same page.
  3. Uncomfortable with Leadership Accountability
    Some leaders are happy to accept the kudos when things go right but not willing to take the heat when things go wrong. True leaders are accountable for their decisions, accept responsibility for any missteps, and work toward correcting them.

    To mitigate an unaccountable leadership mindset, invest the time to create clear goals, roles, and success metrics for every change initiative.
  4. Wary of Stakeholder Reactions
    Any major change will have its naysayers. But it is a leader’s job to articulate the reason for and commit to change that is designed to meaningfully improve the lot of its stakeholders ? employees, customers, and partners.

    To mitigate a wary leadership mindset, invest the time to map your stakeholders in terms of influence and interest.  Then create a plan to inform, monitor, satisfy, and manage them.

The Bottom Line
Are you a leader who is too content with the status quo? If so, you may be guilty of holding your company back. Be the change leader who is appreciated for raising the bar for those around you.

To learn more about being an effective change leader, download The 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership that You Must Get Right

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