Successful change agents know that many people resist or distrust change, and they need encouragement through the process. As I wrote in my last post, communication is critical. People also need an extra measure of positivity and support.
This calls for the leader to have an optimistic outlook and view change as a opportunity, as Edith Onderick-Harvey describes in a Harvard Business Review article. After all, if the leader doubts the process, how can their people have confidence in it? A positive mindset at the upper management level is most powerful when it is spread throughout the organization. Leaders who behave confidently, with the courage to take on the challenges that come with change, have the greatest influence on success.
I agree with Robbie Abed who wrote in Inc. Magazine that it is imperative for leaders to embrace change rather than fear it. It is, after all, your program, authorized by you, so fear needs to be eliminated from your behavior from the outset. Your courage must be contagious, especially when setbacks occur. A committed and confident leader calms everyone’s nerves and keeps them forging ahead.
The optimistic leader keeps negative emotions in check. While undergoing change, people need a steady rock, a beacon of light to feel safe and secure. Let them see you in that role.
Part of this approach is a character that believes in people and lets them know it. Empower others to contribute input and ideas. They are, after all, the experts in the detailed operations within your organization. Solicit engagement in crafting solutions and revisions to the plan. Demonstrate that they are trusted, valued and a critical part of implementing the change, which boosts optimism and buy in.
Another way optimism is conveyed is the rejection of the status quo. When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss ways to communicate that the old ways of doing things cannot continue and better ways are coming – better ways will benefit everyone. Yes, it will be hard work to implement change, and there will be struggles. But your people are worth it! Let your people know that they deserve better than “good-enough”.