3 More Ways to Cope with the Uncertainty of Change

The last time I discussed adaptive change, I walked you through three ways leaders can steer their organizations through the process. This week, I’ll take you through three more of Juan Carlos Eichholz’s suggestions from his book, Adaptive Capacity.

One mistake that many leaders make during the adaptive change process is focusing on communicating at the expense of mobilizing. Eichholz explains, “Adaptive change is about mobilizing people, not communicating ideas or facts to them . . . This is not to say that communications aren’t important in a change process. They are—but only as support for the mobilizing effort, which requires a wider and more complex strategy.” Leading through change requires excellent communication skills, but you can’t stop there. If you want sustainable change, you need to go beyond simply telling people what to do. Leaders must help employees think critically about the way they approach their work and the core values these approaches represent. In other words, leaders must be teachers, not just communicators.

Along the same lines, you cannot ask members of your organization to engage in this kind of work without acknowledging past accomplishments. Putting too much emphasis on communicating what needs to change sends the message that your team was doing something wrong in the past. Adaptive change is about adjusting to an unstable world, not about fixing something that’s broken. Focusing too much on what isn’t working, rather than what is, can exacerbate the very thing you’re trying to change. Leaders with high emotional intelligence who lead with compassion are therefore more likely to be successful at implementing adaptive change. You must show your team how much you value them and provide them with the tools and support they need.

The last thing to keep in mind as you navigate this process is that real, lasting change is hard work. You will not be successful if you are not fully committed. In fact, trying to implement change halfheartedly is likely to backfire by creating the illusion that change is taking place when in fact it is only skin-deep. If you aren’t determined, your team won’t be either.

Have you led your organization through a major change? Were you successful? What insights did you gain from the process? I’d love to hear from you. You can get in touch with me via my website, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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