Change: Friend or Foe?
Lead Coach and Facilitator at Choose Leadership | Working with Purpose Driven Leaders and Organisations

Are you a change maker or leader? Ever wondered why when you start to bring in a change, resistance inevitably arises? Let’s go back to high school physics 101 and Isaac Newton for the seeds of the reasons why.

Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. What that means is that, in the words of Rhett Alain, “Forces come in pairs. Forces are an interaction between two objects. This means that if object A pushes on object B, then object B pushes on A with the same force but in the opposite direction.”

Kurt Lewin’s Force Field Analysis illustrates how this works in organisations. He posited that organisations are held in stasis by a balanced combination of driving and restraining forces. To bring about change the driving and restraining forces need to be unfrozen and the driving forces increased, and/or the restraining forces decreased, until the change has occurred, at which point the forces are “refrozen” and a new equilibrium is established.

You can use the Force Field Analysis, as illiustrated in the image above, to explore any change you want to bring about. Ask:

  • What is the desired future state?
  • What is the current state?

Notice: you have now defined the gap between then and now.

  • What is driving the change?
  • What is restraining the change?
  • How strong are these forces?
  • How can you increase the driving forces?
  • How can you engage with the resistance and bring about a re-alignment of that energy?

The final question is critical. Note that it doesn’t ask how can you eliminate or overcome or defeat or destroy the resistance. Resistance typically manifests itself through the behaviour of people. Behaviour, our external game, is driven by our internal game as is illustrated below:

Remember, mindset drives behaviour, which creates culture, which reinforces or resists systems and structure.

To engage resistance we need to explore why people resist. Their mindset, values and beliefs, and their assumptions, fears and imaginings. By understanding, we can address misconceptions and the legitimate concerns that people have. This opens up the possibility of enrolling others in the change, and indeed co-creating the future with them, rather than in spite of them.

This is the importance of change leadership. Change management can create the plan, but leadership is what allows managers and employees to navigate the uncertainty, ambiguity and vicissitudes of change. For support in navigating change as a leader or within your organization, contact us to arrange a conversation.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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