Mastering Change

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Published: 08th May 2020
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Taking an organization down a path it has already travelled is easy. Moving people where they all want to go is simple. But persuading people to proceed in a new direction requires leadership. In fact, the ultimate test of leadership is navigating change successfully—for the benefit of those being served.

Remember—leading change is all about people. A modern leadership proverb is “He who thinks he is leading but has no one following is only taking a walk.” Therefore we must understand the people we are helping make the change. And one way of understanding our people is to realize that in any group facing change, we find three camps or categories of people.

Boosters are the people who like the proposed change. They are supportive of the leaders and the ideas they are sharing. They want to move forward.
Busters are resistant to the change and contrary to the leadership. They don’t like the ideas being promoted and they don’t mind saying so.
Bystanders are uncommitted to the change—sometimes because of indifference, sometimes apathy, sometimes just lack of information.

Great leaders recognize and understand these camps. And they have learned that it isn’t effective to divide their limited time equally between camps. Perhaps you have already observed that the camp that demands the most time is the Busters. Interestingly, successful leaders will spend the least amount of time with this group. That’s because they have learned the first key to leading change: Concentrate most of your time and energy on the Bystanders. By investing some time with Bystanders, you can help them see the need for change and help them understand how the benefits outweigh the negatives. If you don’t help them make up their mind, someone else will, possibly to your detriment.
What Can You Do?
Get to know the people you are leading. Consider a recent (or current) change and list which of your people are in each camp. Now be ready to apply the first key to leading change—take time to help Bystanders become Boosters. Your next change depends on it!

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