|-How to lead change instead of forcing it.|
We can’t make anybody do what they don’t want to do. At least not for long. However, we can empower people to do what they already want to do. That is the art of leadership. Whether we lead others or lead ourselves to change, igniting desire is critical.
A leader’s job.
Leaders shift attitudes and behavior, inspiring others to achieve a goal or to benefit a cause. There are two ways to help people change or innovate. We can shame, instill fear and force or we can appreciate, respect and encourage.
Sometimes we become so enamored with our goals and causes, we lose sight of the people involved. We begin to see them as a means to an end, devaluing them in the process. Often this happens unintentionally, but the adverse effects are far and wide. People stop listening and cooperating.
Whether formally or not, we all take on leadership roles in our workplaces, our communities, at home and with ourselves. The art of leading others begins with valuing them at least as much as we value the outcomes we want.
At the core of every person is the desire to experience their worthiness, either directly or indirectly through others. Even the most successful welcome the positive recognition of their value as human beings.
Three ways to acknowledge value.
When we want to lead others or ourselves beyond the resistance to change, we shift our approach to valuing the person first. With authentic appreciation, respect and encouragement, we turn a “no thanks” into a “yes please.”
Judy is a bright and savvy VP at an investment firm. She can also be judgmental and impatient with her team when they don’t see things her way. As a result, Judy experiences a lot of underlying resentment and resistance to her ideas even when it turns out she is right.
Let’s see how Judy applies the concept of valuing others to turn around her relationship and her results with the team.
Appreciation: When we face opposition from others, it’s natural to find fault with them to protect ourselves mentally and emotionally. When Judy’s team opposed her, all she could see was their stubbornness, defensiveness and inflexibility to new ideas.
However, when Judy made an intentional shift in her perception to notice and express their value with words of appreciation, her team became more willing to listen with open minds. She shared gratefulness whenever she could for what they were capable of and for any improvements they had made along the way, no matter how slight.
As Judy acknowledged and appreciated their value as productive team members, resistance to once opposed ideas softened.
Respect: As good as appreciation feels to give and receive, we still need to deal with mistakes or inappropriate behavior. Respect is how we affirm our shared value with humility as we dive into difficult but necessary conversations. We all have slip-ups from time to time, and it’s essential to help people save face by commenting on their indiscriminate words or behavior as separate from them. Nothing good ever comes from letting another person lose their dignity.
Judy was prone to being blunt and calling people out on their faults and errors. This behavior usually got their attention quickly, and it also destroyed trust and weakened the relationship. To reverse course, Judy shared her own mistakes and how she learned from them. She humbled herself in a respectful way that allowed others to see Judy as a fellow human being rather than an adversary.
Setting the stage this way, Judy was able to point out issues in a way that didn’t devalue the other person. Instead, it valued them as equals, capable of the same growth and development. Judy enabled their acceptance and agreement for a correction to be much more likely.
Encouragement: To empower a change in attitude or behavior, a leader encourages others to take risks, think for themselves and acknowledge their unique intelligence. Leaders boost confidence in a trial and error process by focusing on the inherent learning opportunities.
For Judy, this meant instead of telling people what she wanted them to do or what she thought was best, she helped them discover it independently. She simplified the issues to present them in a way that made problems easier to address. Judy asked more insightful questions that required reflection and investigation to help people “own” their solutions. Finally, she inspired pride and satisfaction in the effort as much as the outcome.
When we are resistant to change or innovation, we can also apply appreciation, respect, and encouragement to melt our own resistance. With self-leadership, we can value ourselves first to open our minds to new ideas and opportunities.
When we want to move forward out of our comfort zone, we take a step back to appreciate our current abilities and any advances we’ve made along the way. We are humble about our shortcomings while accepting our equality with others as human beings. Finally, we encourage trust in ourselves and our wisdom to do the best we can.
Change requires leadership because it stirs up fear and foreboding for most of us. Skilled leaders transform that resistance into willingness and then desire with appreciation, respect, and encouragement. They help us be fully engaged and enthusiastic about the process and the outcome.
You can learn to transform a solid no into a whole-hearted yes. Ready to practice?
Work Your Inner Genius.
1. What attitude or behavior are you trying to change in yourself or others?
2. Even though you have the best intentions, how have you forced change with criticism, disrespect, or opposition?
3. What could you do to approach change with appreciation, respect, and encouragement? How might things be different if you did?
Thanks for reading!
Til next, week…