By Dana Lightman, Ph.D.
You don’t need to hear from any expert to know that change is a constant element in our lives today. Leaders must navigate ongoing changes in their organizations, ranging from policy and personnel to technology and finances. And it is the leader who sets the stage for how these changes are received by staff and integrated into the organizational culture. To make matters even more stressful, the changes that are taking place are more complex today than they were in the past, and they are happening at an accelerated pace. In the past, when change occurred, it was more relaxed. You had time to adapt your feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You didn’t have to work at adjusting your perspective, because adjustments happened naturally. You didn’t have to spend so much time integrating new information and concepts. Integration seemed to just occur automatically.
In today’s world of fast-paced change, you can’t afford to be passive. You need to be proactive, intentionally taking charge of your responses to change. And helping others move from initial negative reactivity to more positive perspectives can create a smoother transition in the organization. For example, these types of thoughts about change would put anyone on a downward spiral of frustration, anger and resistance: “I don’t want to deal with this new policy.” “Not another new computer program I have to learn!” “Our old manager was so much better.”
The first step in being proactive is to notice and pay attention to thoughts that drain your energy and create anxiety or negativity. The key is to shift your focus to the positive aspects of change. Use these questions as a guide:
• How will I grow from this change?
• What negative pattern can I tackle and overcome?
• What can I learn from this change?
• What gains could I make that will help me down the road?
The next time you face a change, coach yourself and others to notice the feelings of loss, uncertainty and discomfort that are the normal, initial reactions to change. But don’t stop there. Actively embrace this change as an opportunity for discovery, insight and mastery. While change requires adjustment, when you take charge of your perspective, it can also lead to growth and empowerment.
Dana Lightman is one of the many incredible presenters at the 2016 DSAIA Leadership Conference. Dana will be delivering the Saturday keynote address. Learn more about her at www.danalightman.com.
To see Dana and other speakers in person, go to www.dsaia.org/conference.