A leader has to address those often unconscious and unexpressed fears along the way in order to help people keep them under control. Leading your people through change and managing the whole messy business By convention we speak of change a€?managementa€? but the reality is that change involves leadership as well as management. Kurt Lewin’s simple three-step approach, still popular since being put forward in the 1940s, says that we must first overcome the inertia that we confront when attempting to change something. Lewin explains that people’s mindsets are “frozen” around the current approach (“we’ve always done it that way”). Secondly, we have to actively introduce the change – we can’t simply let go of something secure and try to grasp nothing; there must be a new way, new approach, or new structure to grab hold of. Thirdly, we have to then “re-freeze” mindsets around the new approach; we don’t want the old ways returning, so it’s vital that the new approach is embedded and locked in. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross became well-known for her work on grief, especially her 1969 book, “On Death and Dying,” in which she introduced the stages people typically go through when grieving a loss – which can include loss of familiar ways of working, colleagues, or responsibilities. The AKDAR model is a useful reminder about how important it is for us to take an intentional and positive approach to change processes, so that change becomes a reality and the break with the past is clear.
In general, all three of these models have some common themes about change being a journey or progression over time or occurring in clear stages.
Knowledge about how to change and fostering this ability are vital to: a) building one’s own or others’ confidence in the new approach and b) embedding the new way in their behavior. Of course, in some change processes there will be those who simply cannot or will not make the change.
My favorite analogy of a shorter time frame is having a goal scored against your favorite team. We live within this model most days of our lives as we digest news of varying severity, from forgetting to put the bins out to dealing with a speeding ticket. In my own field of leadership training through sailing, we are constantly dealing with change as unexpected events or conditions are foisted upon us on a fair regular basis. Using the models above in an active and dynamic scenarios can help all of us deal with professional and personal issues better.

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. ReadyToManage is your one-stop shop for world class employee and personal development resources. Leadership styles matter, as the primary causes of failure in change initiatives are all people related, and to do with emotions. And of course, this will depend not only on the person (and his or her skills and temperament to handle it) but on the changed situation he or she is facing, and how major in scale it is.
So first, we have to dismantle those existing structures that reinforce the status quo – what he called the process of “unfreezing,” showing, for example, how or why something isn’t working well, creating an awareness of a better possibility. We also have to expect that the change experience will typically be confusing and uncertain. This is usually accomplished by reinforcement thinking at a personal level and by creating supporting teams and individuals who can support one another and avoid backsliding. Even when there is something new to work with and new opportunities, it is typical for us to grieve what we’ve had to let go of. It’s therefore helpful for reminding us about how we can better cope ourselves and to help other people around us deal with change if we can provide opportunities for them to use each of these building blocks.
The process of breaking with the past way of doing things begins with developing awareness of why change is needed. Once people are acting a certain way they are able to take ownership of the approach – it’s much more real than simply hearing about an idea or concept. This becomes a challenging situation – how long do you try to help them and at what point do they make the decision for themselves that they simply won’t be staying with you on this journey? Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. So change leadership requires some very special qualities in the person[s] leading the change. This is more to do with a€?beinga€? than a€?doinga€?.

In many cases, individuals get caught-up in change very quickly and then try to cope on a just-in-time basis, using stratagems and tactics that are almost invented on the spot. We don’t know how things work, processes are unfamiliar, and unexpected challenges or issues will confront us. What you do, and how you do it will be largely determined by how you are as a person. Change is an emotional business.
Although these can sometimes work well, there are a number of well thought-through approaches and models that have been developed over the years to help us understand the psychology of change and how we might better cope with it.
However, later psychologists not only saw her work to be applicable to any major change, but added other steps in the process, such as the initial “shock” phase and the addition of an “Experiment” phase.
Some people need longer to process the change, but you can only move at the pace of the slowest member for so long. The failure to address the human impacts of change is at the root of most failed change initiatives.
If you’re genuinely trying to help individuals (not simply boss them into agreeing), most people will at least try to understand.
The axis can represent years, or even reach to infinity as those coping with change fail to progress. But at some point people must be part of the new way or they cannot remain part of the team. Part of breaking with the past is making this point clear to people – and treating those who won’t make the journey of change with dignity and respect.
Not being willing to change doesn’t make someone a difficult or “bad” person, and everyone has the right to make those decisions – but of course such decisions have consequences.

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