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The Big Lie “My People Won’t Change” By Gregg Thompson The leader: “I have a grand, new vision and a brilliant strategic plan that will create a spectacular future for our company.” The follower: “That’s nice.” The leader: “I am challenging you to abandon the status quo, discover your strengths, become empowered and make deep, emotional connections with our customers.” The follower: “That’s very nice.” The leader: “We are going to become truly authentic, wildly passionate about our values, fully engaged in the real-time digital world and totally disruptive in the marketplace.” The follower: “Wow! That’s very, very nice.” The leader: “Great. Let’s go.” The follower: “Wonderful. Let me know how that works out for you.” As you are reading this article, the above conversation is being repeated in countless cubicles, hallways, meeting rooms and shop floors. An enthusiastic, future-thinking leader faces an intransigent follower with a passive aggressive bent. A classic example of the rampant resistance to change that is pervasive in organizations today? I suggest not. It is common to hear researchers, writers, conference speakers and the like drone on about the inevitable “resistance to change” that impairs our organizations’ ability to rapidly adapt and respond. Leaders are exhorted to employ all manner of practices and approaches to confront this plague and drive change through their organizations. This most often involves creating an exciting picture of a new vision and making sure everyone knows what fabulous rewards await all when the vision becomes a reality. This is then typically followed by lots of talk and lots of meetings and lots of plans and lots of great intentions and then…well, nothing. The notion of driving change through the organization makes us feel powerful and in charge, however, the outcomes of most such initiatives are very disappointing. The problem with these approaches is the assumption that change is unwelcome, difficult and instinctively avoided by people. Frankly, the assumption that people inherently resist change is ludicrous and most likely perpetuated by leaders and HR professionals who have a dismal record in creating significant, sustained change. In fact, our ability and willingness to change both ourselves and our environment is one of humankind’s most dominant and important traits. It’s an indelible part of our nature. Think about how we have responded to opportunities and threats throughout the ages. We bob. We leadership excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 04.2014 56


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