A while back we coached a leader who had pitched a radical new marketing angle to the company’s senior leadership team – an angle that spoke directly to millennials. Most everyone loved it, except for two of the older, more senior members who felt it was antithetical to their brand. They didn’t see the value, didn’t get it.
Despite this opposition, the campaign was approved and hugely successful. In sending the final recap to the team, this leader wanted to call out and appreciate the ones who did see the vision, ultimately leaving out the select few who weren’t immediately on board.
It sounded like a good idea to our client. But if you only support the people who support you – if you try to drive change by only rallying those who see your vision – you’ll fail.
Look around your workplace (or, at the various squares on your next Zoom meeting) and you’re likely to see allies and also opponents. Sometimes it lines up with different generational views, as with our client, but not always. A properly built team and organization, just like society as a whole, means differing opinions and attitudes.
As a leader driving change, even as you’re championing the new, you have to embrace those who aren’t readily following. Sometimes they see obstacles you might have overlooked; sometimes they’re just stuck in their old ways. Nonetheless, they’re part of your team, and your job is to bring them along for the ride.
Today we invite you to reflect on how you drive change:
- Do you have team members who drag their feet or seem stuck in the old ways of doing things?
- How does it make you feel when people are hesitant, resistant, or outright critical of your vision?
- Can you engage with them, as well as with your supporters?
- Do you use curiosity to inquire into their objections? Try to understand their hesitation?
- Can you recall an instance where someone who was resistant had a good point, even something that ultimately improved your idea?
Building a collective brain trust that helps you embrace old ideas even as you’re championing the new, will provide you with the different perspectives needed to run an innovative business.