Most change management has shifted from a simplistic, top-down, “create a vision, change the structure, roll out the new program, and get buy-in” approach to more emergent, empowered, and purpose-led approaches. But leading big, complex change is still a struggle the rate of failure for transformation projects remains stubbornly high.
The authors have seen both in their research and their work with clients that the missing ingredient is the ability to look for and work with deeper systemic forces. And they found the force that has the greatest impact on change outcomes is humans’ primary need to belong. The authors present four strategies for leaders to skillfully attend to people’s most primal need to feel secure in disruptive contexts.
Four Ways to Drive Change Through Belonging
Be mindful of your own emotions : Leaders must master a skill we call “being before doing”: tuning into and regulating one’s own mental and emotional reactions to experiences. When we intentionally bring our attention to the present moment, we increase our awareness of all that is going on in and around us without immediate judgement. This preserves our thinking and decision-making abilities, stops our brains from reacting impulsively, and opens the opportunity to assess different options.
Identify what people are seeking to preserve and why: Look beyond what seems like resistance to or an inability to change and perceive what people treasure and protect. It will enable you to address and challenge deep loyalties with insight and respect.
Lead difficult conversations: To help your team see not only what needs to change, but why it needs to change, you have to lead conversations that explore their discomfort and help them see that as a necessary change companion.
Consider the prize and the price of change: No big change comes without a price tag. When you name and work with both, you can build true belonging, not false loyalty.
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