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Equipping your people with the ability to embrace change

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Business success is only possible if your people are ready, willing and able to embrace change. The success of the business, the success of its leaders and your personal success all hinge upon the ability of your people to not just cope with change – but to accept it, embrace it and look for the opportunities.

The ability to embrace change is the most important gift you can give your people – for the sake of their own personal well-being as well as the health and future success of the company.

I would like to share with you the basis of the insights contained in my ‘Embracing Change’ workshops and webinars I run for organisations worldwide, and the ‘Embracing Change Online Programme’ which employees are able to access at their pace, whenever and wherever they wish.

To accept and embrace change, your people will need to understand and acknowledge the five truths about change:

1. Change is inevitable.

This may seem like a ‘Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious’ but so many of us fail to fully appreciate this simple yet profound fact. Change is not a one-off, nor is it a project. Change, good and bad, is an inevitable part of life.

2. All change is personal.

Even the most extensive organisational change is actually the culmination of a myriad of individual, personal changes.

3. We all erect our own personal barriers to change.

It is an evolutionary survival mechanism. Some of these barriers will last a few seconds, others may last a lifetime. But no matter how high or how solid your barriers may be, you can build the confidence to admit they exist and learn to overcome them. No-one needs to remain a victim of change for long, even major change that is done to us.

4. All change is emotional.

We experience a rollercoaster of emotions when confronted by significant change – even change that we instigate. The emotions can include shock, denial, anger, fear, anxiety and hopelessness before understanding and acceptance can begin to kick in.  These emotions are not only OK, they are completely normal, inevitable and healthy. Understanding this is a critical step forward. During one ‘Embracing Change’ workshop for the employees of a major fund manager, one of the delegates was quietly wiping away tears during the first session. During the break, she explained that she hadn’t realised the range of emotions she was experiencing since the death of her father was completely normal.  Her relief was palpable.

5. We only change if we want to.

No-one changes simply because they are told to. We only change if and when we want to. A taxi driver I met in Vegas explained to me that he used to be literally twice the size he was when I met him and was getting through 2 bottles of vodka and 4 litres of Coca Cola every day. One day, he woke up and threw away the booze and coke and had been drinking nothing but water ever since. He was 53. People had been telling him to change for decades. But he didn’t change until he genuinely wanted to.

There are two key conclusions arising from these five key truths. The first one is that the core role of leadership today is helping your people to want to change.

The second is that we can be our own leader of change. We can observe the emotions we feel during times of change, be kind to ourselves if we wallow in the trough of the change curve for a while before asking ourselves the magic question: “So, what am I going to do about it?”

For the power to change lies within every single one of us.

About Campbell Macpherson

Campbell Macpherson is a sought-after speaker and international business adviser on leadership, strategy and change who splits his time between Australia and the UK. He is a keynote speaker, Executive Fellow of Henley Business School and author. His first book, The Change Catalyst (Wiley 2017), won 2018 Business Book of the Year in London. His latest book, The Power to Change (Kogan Page 2020) is out now and available from Booktopia (RRP $34.50). More information about Campbell and his workshops and webinars can be found at: www.changeandstrategy.com

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