Another Four Letter Word: Do you recognize it in your vocabulary?

Self-control is an exhaustible resource,” as authors Dan and Chip Heath describe in their book Switch.  Doesn’t this ring true to you especially when you are in the midst of making changes – whether personal or with your team?  Change requires energy, thought, planning and self-control.  It’s never easy!

For most of us, change is a four letter word and is usually spelled F-E-A-R.   As an effective leader, you logically understand that fearing change is part of what makes us human.  We are aware that fear dwells within all humans especially when we face change yet as leaders we know we must find ways to overcome the fear of change to move forward.

In a master’s course on Change Leadership, students were trying to solve a real world problem centered on fear and change. One of the students explained his father had built a large warehouse, which over a 10 year period, created substantial logistical issues. The employees had difficulty tracking and finding the stored items in the warehouse which lead to poor customer service.

It was obvious to most that the inventory system needed to be upgraded but his father, the decision maker, didn’t want to make the change nor spend the money.  The class offered a script for a solution based on an emotional connection to the problem and what would continue if the father did not change:

  • Create a video of employees trying to find parts, searching aisles and getting frustrated
  • Cut to a scene with a customer complaining about how the service has gone downhill
  • Cut to warehouse employee searching another aisle for another minute
  • Switch back to customer complaining
  • Video alternates between these two scenes for five minutes
  • Last scene has warehouse employee screaming, “We need to do something!”

Within minutes after the father viewed the video, the fear of losing revenue, customers and his credibility, he enthusiastically agreed to purchase the warehouse locator system.

The video showed how ineffective the current inventory system was and gave the father a visual and emotional connection to the problem.  For years the son had tried analysis, facts, and written complaints and none of it worked.  Creating a sense of urgency connected to emotional and analytical consequences helps people overcome the inertia of the fear of change.

Leaders offer emotional connections to NOT changing that are more distressing than the emotional fear of changing.

At times leadership change happens through others.  For instance the warehouse example describes a creative way to influence the decision maker to endorse a change based on customers’ emotional testimonials.  A great leader understands the power of influence and leverages others to help get to the best decision.  How have you indirectly influenced your boss?  How have you engaged others to add credence to your ideas or solutions?  How have you added the power of emotion to over come fear?

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Dr. Wayne Dyer, Renowned Author in field of Self-Development