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Leadership Development – Creating Positive Change Part 2

July 22, 2020

create positive change

In Part 1 of this blog, Ben addressed the topic of, Why People Resist Change; the first three reasons were…

“Number one, the change isn’t self-initiated. This is a trait that I have recognized in my own life. A lot of people, they love change, but they want to be the agent. Maybe the chief or the boss or whatever… You’re going to have to find a tactful way to come up with an idea that he somehow thinks was his idea. I know, it’s dumb. But sometimes that is the way it is. 

Number two, routine is disrupted. Many times people are willing to sit in their own slop just because it’s comfortable. They would rather do that, then make a change. There’s no doubt that change is going to disrupt your normal routines and people want to be comfortable. So, that’s something you are going to have to deal with. 

Number three, change creates fear of the unknown. There is nothing more stifling to change than just going through the litany of things that could go wrong. Within our company, I constantly tell people we are not going to fear the things that can go wrong. Yes, we want to be smart. We want to dig in and do our due diligence. But, what we are not going to do is be locked up by fear. And there are just some people that are so locked up by fear, that they cannot do anything.”

In Part 2 of this webinar, Ben shared additional reasons why people resist change… 

Ben said, “The next point… the purpose of the change is unclear. You’ve gotta be able to convey to people what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. And, more importantly, why are you doing it? If you just walk in, slam the doors open, and say, Alright, we’re going to do this new thing! That’s not going to work. You’ve got to make sure you’re answering the why. Why are we doing what we’re doing?

Another part of that fear, is the fear of failure. People generally don’t want to be failures. That’s a hard, hard thing to deal with. I think generally if you look at business owners, they probably have a higher tolerance level for failure. They just know that that’s an inevitable part of what they’re going to deal with. Things are gonna go wrong. They’re going to have to adjust and invent new ways of getting around them. 

Failure is not a mechanism for locking up, but there are a lot of people that don’t have that mentality. If there is any possibility of failure – and I mean any possibility – they’re going to find it, and they’re going to make sure it’s known. Ultimately, they wind up doing nothing, because there is potential failure in everything. 

The next one… change won’t happen when people engage in negative thinking. I have a really good quote here, ‘Regardless of his state in the present, the negative thinker finds disappointment in the future. The epitaph on the negative person’s headstone should read… I expected this.’ 

I mean, do you know people that are like that? Like, they just live life and everything is negative. Everything is wrong. There are always problems with everything. And, ultimately… you don’t want to be around them. And, unfortunately, in a lot of your situations, people are brought in and you’ve got to deal with the negative thinkers. That’s really hard to deal with. And it’s stifling to change. 

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The next one is… followers lack respect for the leader. Maybe – if you’re in a position with some subordinates and – you’re trying to institute change, maybe there’s a lack of respect there, because of the way you’ve been operating for so many years. 

Are you a dictator? Do you just tell people, This is how we’re going to do it because I said we’re going to do it that way. That doesn’t incentivize people to be part of the process. And so, when you do throw out change, there’s no understanding of the other person. And that, in and of itself, can lead to something bad. 

This next point is going to affect everybody… the leader is susceptible to feelings of criticism. You may say… and I’m capable of doing this a little bit myself, I’m impervious to what people think. But down deep, we all have that inner part of us that doesn’t want to face criticism. You don’t want to fail, and you certainly don’t want to face criticism. 

If you think about trying to implement change, there is a potential it’s: going to go wrong, it’s going to fail, and something’s going to go sideways. So, there may be some personal criticism coming your way, and you’ll have to be able to deal with that. That concept is why some people just say, I’d rather not stick my foot out there or try to do anything new. 

Number eight, change may mean personal loss. One of the things that stands out to me is… Amazon and Azure have these unbelievable infrastructures for technical stuff that makes it far cheaper and far easier to operate this IT stuff in the cloud. I guarantee you, there are IT people out there that do not want to gravitate toward that. Even if it’s better, even if it’s more cost-effective… because it diminishes their role, or may take them out of the play altogether. 

Say you’re sitting in a room with 10 people, and you’ve got to sell them on implementing change. You’d better know who, in that room, may be affected in a negative way by what you’re doing. You may want to talk to them before you get into the larger group because even if it’s positive for the organization, it’s going to negatively affect them. 

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The last one – this is what gets people in our company in trouble – is… we’ve always done it that way. The dumbest answer to any question is… We do it that way because we’ve always done it that way. Just because it’s always been done that way, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way. And, it certainly is going to prevent change. 

So, how do you create a climate for change? Human behavior studies show that people do not basically resist change, they resist being changed. You can sit in a group of people and ask for hands, How many people are open to change? Hands up! How many of you were willing to change yourself? Oh, hands down. I’m interested in changing somebody else… 

Here’s how you, as a leader – and everybody is in a position of leadership and influence, to some degree – must develop trust with the people you deal with. And I mean, everybody. You’ve got to communicate with people. You got to communicate with the officers. Some of the things that I love to hear from people is that you’re out talking to the officers, getting to know these people. 

I heard somebody say something about giving out gift cards. Like, you may have given out gift cards to people that did a good job. That’s how you build up trust in people. And it really sets a foundation to create change. When you have a good relationship with all the people in your world – if you have a chief, or a sheriff, or whoever the boss is – how do you get along with them? Are they just the person that sits upstairs, and I never communicate with them? Do you only go into their office when there’s a problem? Do you ever just walk in and say, Hey, I just want to let you know that this is going really well. Maybe even go as far as to thank them for their support. That’s it. No expectations; nothing outside of that. When you do those things, you begin to build trust with people. 

Number two, the leader must make personal changes before asking others to change. You’ve got to look at yourself first. Remember that list I read in Part 1, about the characteristics of a leader that is failing? You’ve gotta be able to look at those things before you tell somebody else to make that change. You’ve gotta be willing to make those changes yourself, because in the end, your people are going to react far more significantly to the changes you’re making, than the ones you’re dictating. Show them how to do it. Be an example.

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The next one… good leaders understand the history of the organization. That is sort of counterproductive to my comments about tradition… I don’t have any problems with understanding that there is tradition. I’m just saying, that cannot be the reason to stifle change. We’ve got to change. We’ve got to move. We’ve got to progress. 

The next one… check the change in your own pocket. I want to read a quote about this… ‘Every leader is given a certain amount of change – emotional support in a form of bargaining chips – at the beginning of a relationship. If the relationship weakens, the leadership gives up change until it is possible for him to become bankrupt with the organization. If the relationship strengthens, the leadership receives change until it is possible for him to become rich with the organization.’ 

When you build up trust, and you build up relationships with people in your organization, you’re given bargaining chips. When you deplete and negate those relationships – and you make them weaker – you’re giving up change. And then in the end, when you want to implement change, you’re bankrupt. You’ve got nothing in the pocket. 

Your sheriff, your chief, is going to be far more willing to listen to you when you come in and present good ideas, well thought out ideas, and there’s a relationship there. So, if you want to implement change, don’t start with, This is why we need to implement change. And this is what I want to do. Start out by building relationships. That is going to be the foundation to getting the change that you want. 

The next one… solicit the support of influencers before changes are made public. Go around and simply give them a chance to provide some feedback and speak to what you’re doing. I like this quote… Every new idea goes through three phases. It will not work, it will cost too much,  and… I thought it was a good idea all along. If you go into a room of 10 people, you throw out an idea, it will go right through… that won’t work, it will cost too much, and then you may get to a point where they’re claiming the idea. 

And the very last one I’ve got here… show people how the change is going to benefit them. You’ve gotta be able to lay that stuff out. The more persuasive you are, in your ability to show them how this is a benefit to them, the more likely you’re going to get them on board with what you want to do.

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I understand that getting an evidence management system is important, but if all you do is walk in and say… What I’ve got sucks. I want to get something better. You’re not getting anything. You’ve gotta be able to go through all these different steps. You’ve got to get people on board with them, show them why it’s important, how it’s going to benefit them. And hopefully, all of that is being done after you’ve built up trust and you’ve got relationships with these people; then you’re going to be much more effective moving forward. 

So, to wrap this up, that’s what I learned about five years ago when I went through this book… I was pretty much in violation. Not just of neglecting change, but almost all 10 chapters that were in this book to some degree or another. I was not doing it the way that it needed to be done. And when I started making wholesale changes, with the way we operated, all of a sudden, it created an environment where now we make changes all the time. You may be a part of an organization where you say… we don’t change anything

At Tracker Products, we are an organization that is involved in significant change – frequently. It is a part of what we do, and who we are. And, I’ve got 24 people that are all wrapped around this. I’d like to believe that we go through many of these things that I have offered you here today.” 

Jake Wilburn – a member of the audience – shared his favorite quote, by Thomas Paine… “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. And at first, raises a formidable outcry in defense of customs. In other words, there will always be resistance to slaying sacred cows, because everyone just gets used to the stink of cow pies.

Ben closed the webinar by saying, “That’s the idea! There are people out there that will just sit in their own stink versus changing and going to something more pleasant; because maybe they just feel comfortable with that. 

I hope this was valuable for everybody. This is something that I believe in, personally, and I hope this is something that you guys can make use of when making change in your world.”

Tracker Products and The Evidence Management Institute want to give you something productive to think about during this time of uncertainty… a series of free evidence management training and panel discussions. Watch and comment on the recordings here, or – to get in on the discussion – join the Evidence Management Community Forum.

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