The Three Bandits of Change Leadership

Successful businesses are constantly changing. They’re introducing new offerings based on customer demand, making product updates to improve their bottom line, expanding into new obstacle to leadership changemarkets, promoting employees and more. But unfortunately not everyone is always ready to adapt. In fact, for every supporter of change, leaders will be challenged by those who are resistant or scared to embrace the new and unknown. And because of the disharmony caused by the change-adverse, the leadership, and possibly the whole organization, is put at risk for failure.

Why? Three change bandits – “The Other Guy,” “Adversity,” and “Discomfort” – can be viewed as keeping even the best-intentioned leaders from being successful. It is important to consider that change is not a left-brain rational act, but a right-brain emotional choice. The ability to lead and influence change is based on how we feel and how we make others feel. It is these feelings and how we process them that ultimately allow for successful change leadership. So taking the Three Bandits of Change Leadership head-on is a critical component to successfully leading a team, or an organization, through a change that will result in a better business for all.

for every supporter of change, leaders will be challenged by those who are resistant or scared to embrace the new and unknown.

What are the change bandits doing to cause problems for the leaders of change? They’re feeding on the emotional conclusions that the “other guy” needs to change, “adversity” should be avoided, and “discomfort” is incompetence in disguise. Here is a more in-depth look at each.

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1. “The Other Guy” – His voice of fear and limitations can easily change a mindset focused on being better to one consumed with being bitter. “The other guy did this to me.” “The other guy needs to go first before I can do anything.” “The other guy is keeping me from being successful.”

A number of years ago, I worked with a psychologist and business coach who started working in prisons. He spoke to prisoners one on one, asking them the same question: How did you get here? In each cell, the prisoner would say, “It wasn’t me; it was the other guy.” They told him elaborate stories – “my friends took me along,” “my cousin looks just like me, and they got the wrong guy,” or “I had a terrible lawyer and was never defended properly.” The coach quickly concluded if we caught this illusive “other guy,” we could empty our prisons. When he began working in corporate America, he conducted interviews with executives on what was holding back their performance. Amazingly, the “other guy” showed up here too. This “other guy” syndrome causes us to give away control of our future to others; the Other Guy Bandit must be sent off before he derails any change effort. When we keep control within ourselves, we can achieve our goals.

2. “Adversity” – The #1 roadblock to change is not addressing the areas of conflict or adversity that are critical to success. I’ve found that teams have extreme difficulty separating issues from individuals and stepping into the areas they fear may offend others. This is especially true the higher you go in an organization where adversity-laced conflict is talked about in the hall or at the bar, instead of as a team that must change to truly address the challenge.

Research shows that adversity is one of the most critical ingredients for personal and team growth. As adversity and conflict go away, people stop growing and begin a slow decline in capability. The goal is to hug adversity and embrace conflict to promote true change leadership.

The #1 roadblock to change is not addressing the areas of conflict or adversity

3. “Discomfort” – Humility, vulnerability, and discomfort are the traits of change leadership. So how do we get comfortable with discomfort and realize that feeling like a dumbass can be the example of leading change? The secret is to create a new mindset that helps people feel and know they should not flee the discomfort, but see it as a sign of genuine leadership. Hug the indignity. Celebrate the clumsy. And remember the mindset that change is beginning again.

The three bandits – the “Other Guy,” “Adversity,” and “Discomfort” – must all be addressed in order to build and create a business for the future that is compelling and worth the risk.

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