Flip Flops at Work

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Flip Flops at Work

I read a blog post by John Kotter (Leading Change) at Forbes.com. He talked about politicians, executives, and flip-flops on positions.

Here is my comment to his post.

The good news is that executives have it easier than candidates when they change their minds. Executives have forums (including e-mail) where they can explain their rationale for a change. It’s much harder for candidates. It seems that most people get their information in sound bites and catch phrases. The 30-second ad or screed from a media commentator doesn’t lend itself to nuances like providing the rationale for a decision.
Nevertheless, I am amazed (as I believe you are) at how infrequently executives take the opportunity to make an urgent case for any type of change including so-called flip-flops. Much of my work in recent years has focused on helping leaders make a compelling case for change. I’ve learned a couple of things :
1. Leaders rely way too much on slides to make their case. PowerPoint is a fine tool, but it has serious limitations when it comes to influencing others. I don’t think I have ever been in a conference room where a slide presentation turned a passive audience into one that wanted to know more and embrace the change.
2. I found that people resist change for three reasons, they don’t get it, they don’t like it (fear), and/or they don’t like you (in other words they don’t trust or have confidence in the leader for this task). The good news is that people tend to support change when the opposite of those three things are in place: people understand the situation and the need for change; they are exciting and want to get engaged, and they believe the leaders have what it takes to lead this well. At best, a slide show can provide information but rarely helps with the issue of fear versus excitement or trust versus mistrust.
When leaders in organizations attend to those three reasons for resistance and support, I have seen resistance or complacency turn to a willingness to hear more and then to a commitment to support the change.
Here is a link to a blog post where I describe those three levels in a little greater detail. 3 Levels of Resistance

And thanks for a fine post.
Rick Maurer, author Beyond the Wall of Resistance (2010)

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