(An Excerpt From Doug Eadie’s New Book, Leading Out-Of-The-Box Change,
Governance Edge Publishing, 2012)
Long experience as an executive and consultant have taught me that
many if not most people not only don’t welcome change in their lives and
organizations, they can be really ingenuous at keeping it from happening. Why the emotional resistance to changing? It seems to me that fear is the culprit, more
often than not. Many if not most people,
so far as I can tell, won’t readily jump on the change
bandwagon because they’re afraid to. This might not be true of you if you’re a
board member, CEO or senior executive, but the further you move away from the
top tier of leadership in an organization, the more fear you are likely to
encounter. What are staff and volunteers
afraid of? For one thing, anxiety, which
is anything but a comfortable feeling.
Tried and true routines feel familiar, comfortable, and safe, whereas
the possibility of venturing into the unknown to do something really new can
feel quite dangerous and cause lots of anxiety.
Perhaps the most fearsome prospect is the possibility of failing at doing
something new and suffering the consequent embarrassment or even
humiliation. The fact is, people are
sensible to expect emotional pain when changing in important ways, which is why
the old saw, “no pain, no gain,” makes sense.
In addition to the very normal human resistance to change that is
in the real world where you and I live and work, staff members and
volunteers in nonprofit and public organizations are so busy and under so much
pressure – not to speak of feeling pretty anxious and fearful about being
jerked out of their comfort zones – that getting them to participate
whole-heartedly and creatively in a new planning process is no small
challenge. Of course, people can be
bludgeoned into going through the motions, but grudging acquiescence isn’t a
recipe for the kind of creative involvement that will generate high-stakes
out-of-the-box change initiatives. So
the primary goal of your CEO, wearing the Chief Motivator hat, is to get your
staff and volunteers to WANT to participate fully in your out-of-the-box change
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The viewpoints that I express are my own unless otherwise indicated.
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