What is Your Change Barometer?

“All things must change to something new, to something strange.”  These words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s point to the inevitable nature of change and the discomfort that it engenders for most of us.  Change generates a diverse reaction in people.  Some people love change and thrive on what they see as the opportunities that change brings to their lives.  Others hunker down and seem only to survive whatever change is amidst. Still others will do anything to avoid what they see as the threat of change.

While nearly all of us can agree that change is bound to happen, how much of our acceptance or resistance to change comes from the way we see it?  As organizational and life leaders who are called to navigate change on a daily basis, it’s helpful to be able to recognize obstacles to change so that we can, to the extent possible, plan ahead.  Being aware of positive influences for change is also important so we can inspire ourselves and others to thrive and grow through transitions.   What creates blocks for one person may be a source of inspiration and movement forward for another.

Five factors, in particular, appear to color the degree to which we are change-ready:

1.       Values:  Core beliefs and values can lead a person to perceive change as an opportunity, something to survive or something to resist at all costs.

As an organizational leader, if you know that clear, frequent communication is a core value of several team members, then you will be sure to set up regular town hall meetings and to distribute monthly newsletters so all stakeholders feel informed about the structural changes.

2.       Relationships:  If you are surrounded by positive, supportive people, then you will likely live the change much differently than you would with a group of nay-sayers around you.

Leaders at work can organize fun team building events like dinners out and “Field Day’s” to create bonding for otherwise –distant co-workers.

3.       Surroundings:  Old, worn-out furniture and appliances, broken down computers and cars and a high noise level from telephones or traffic can affect your ability to handle the stress caused by change.

Making sure to create surroundings for your team which are conducive to productivity will only enhance your own reputation as a leader.

4.       Wellness:  Your physical, emotional and spiritual state can impact how well – or not – you thrive with change.

In the midst of a stretch of hard work and long hours, a leader may organize a healthy lunch or recommend a day off to bedraggled team members.

5.       New Priorities:  Overtime, you and those you seek to influence may shift their priorities.  This has the potential of causing challenges and conflicts.

Becoming a first-time parent would bring any professional to question the number of hours she is working.  A proactively aware leader knows this and will be ready to offer flex-time to their star players.


Reflecting on how you can use the foregoing factors, and perceptions of them, to shift toward more solution-oriented thinking will make you a more inspiring, motivating and successful leader.

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