5 ways that are essential for leading change

Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it will always be easy. People are resilient, but we are also resilient to change. We are connected in this way, which is why change can be so frightening, scary and challenging.

Our brains are plastic, flexible and fertile for quickly learning vast amounts of information when we are young. But as we learn right from wrong, good from evil, and safety from fear, our brains begin to identify pathways that reinforce these changes for faster decision-making and cognitive efficiency. The subconscious mind memorizes these environmental and social triggers and connects these pathways to the core layers of our software.

In these early stages of development, the brain can quickly change, grow and adapt to any environment. But this is for good and for bad.

Growing up in a stressful or troubled home can teach you to have certain beliefs about parents, society, relationships, and money that may not be rooted in reality. Betting on these early experiences can shape our perspectives and habits later in life, causing many potential problems and outcomes that can shape the trajectory of an individual’s ability to make money, build healthy relationships, or achieve goals.

Leading change is possible

But not all is lost. Change can be one of the most satisfying things that can happen to a person, especially when that change is intentional, directed, and goal-oriented. It can be even more transformative when provided by a respected colleague who deliberately leads change through team building exercises, experimentation, and servant leadership.

Tomorrow’s leaders must be able to facilitate change with their teams and colleagues because of the rapidly changing world around us.

Regardless of your childhood experiences, we are all fighting a tough battle because our brains are not designed to be open to change – they are designed for safety. The human brain is set up to keep us safe and secure, hoping to give us a better chance to stay alive, multiply our genetic line, and allow us to raise our offspring.

While this may be a simplistic approach, it is a difficult truth. Change has not always been part of this equation, so it can cause us considerable anger and tension when we actively pursue or go through it.

5 ways that are essential for leading change

If we really want to make a difference, we have to make a difference in the brain. And to change the brain, there are a few guidelines we need to use. Here are five ways in which change is essential.

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1. Lead by example

Actions will always speak louder than words, and this is the best way to facilitate change because it allows others to join. Humans are social beings – we always have been and always will be.

When someone on your team goes through a transition, makes a positive change in their life, or acquires a newfound passion for something, it’s contagious. People are absorbed in change and begin to initiate change themselves. This helps facilitate leadership change because it shows others that if you can do it, they can do it too.

In many ways, we need to see others do something before we gain enough confidence to do it ourselves. Take the four-minute mile as an example.

Before May 6, 1954, no one had ever violated the four-minute time, and during that time it was considered physically and physiologically impossible to do.

Still, Roger Bannister, a star at the University of Athletics and a student at Oxford, covered the four-minute mile in bad weather and significant crosswinds. And while this was an incredible achievement in itself, the following is even more remarkable.

Within two years, nine more people had crossed the four-minute barrier. So what has changed, you may ask?

Their psychology and expectations of what they are capable of achieving.

An eye to see a hand to touch. And when you set an example, you end up making a difference. You give faith to others that they can do the same. This is authentic leadership.

2. Meet your people where they are

It is a challenge to meet someone who is not. In fact, it is impossible. This is one of the most overlooked components of leading change because it is so simple.

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Meeting your people where they are is imperative for change because it creates a solid foundation for work.

If you ask a colleague or friend to change or behave in a strange way, you will feel careless and distant, which will make them feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed by the chasm separating where they are from where they are asked to be. met.

This dissonance can manifest in many different ways in the boardroom and at home, ranging from anxiety to depression and disconnection, which ultimately leads to changes in communication, eye contact and even work habits.

When you can meet someone where he is, you meet him where it is convenient for him. Because change is inconvenient, starting in a safe place can create a trajectory of significant improvement in a short period of time because one feels confident to take risks and make a change. This psychological safety is essential for creating change and adopting new habits.

The next time you find yourself leading the change, make sure you follow someone else’s footsteps first to make sure you meet them where they are.

3. Ensure psychological and emotional safety

If action speaks louder than words and meeting people where they are is the foundation of change, then providing security and a safe place to change is the roadmap to successful change. Our brains are designed to react negatively to change because it takes us out of our comfort zone and challenges our brain’s ability to predict what will happen next.

In times of uncertainty, our brains trigger stress responses that reduce our capacity for cognitive processing to allow us to prepare for the outcome of a “battle, escape, or freeze.” Unfortunately, none of these options are helpful, as they take up the bandwidth of our critical thinking and lead to bad decisions that can become more complicated over time and significantly affect the end result.

By creating an environment that facilitates and encourages making mistakes and is open to change, people can begin to engage in behaviors that will change their outcomes.

This is a big problem with leaders who micro-manage team members and colleagues. They create an environment of fear and stress, which changes the company culture and changes the brain power of the company. As a result, the company’s end results are determined by day-to-day decisions and the ability of its employees to be open to change.

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Give your team the freedom to make mistakes and learn through the process. Making a change doesn’t have to be difficult.

4. Facilitate productivity “flow” states

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on the states of the flow of consciousness found that those who are involved in a state of flow can increase the individual’s perceptions of greater pleasure, energy and commitment to their work. This is the ideal state of mind that we should all strive for in our personal and professional lives.

Achieving a state of mind flow is the best way to bring about change because it creates an environment of productivity, satisfaction, and maximum achievement. And the best thing about it is that people also feel good while in the process!

When people discover these states of productivity, they are actively immersed in their work and facilitate change right before your eyes.

And the benefits of being able to flow are staggering:

  • Increased emotional regulation
  • Increased pleasure and satisfaction
  • Greater happiness and commitment
  • Higher levels of training and skills development

As a person focused on leading change, it is a mecca of optimal growth and productivity.

When leaders cultivate an environment that facilitates the flow, hard work becomes easy, complex tasks become feasible projects, and levels of satisfaction skyrocket. Flow states are the most important factor for leading change because they provide immediate feedback, a sense of satisfaction and better results.

5. Be patient and open to giving / receiving advice

Change does not happen in an instant and it may take time to find the right dose of change to see the results we are looking for, but that does not mean that the process can be accelerated or accelerated.

Change can be scary, but it can also be addictive. For example, finding the right speed, rhythm and sense of change is an art form in itself, which is why there are so many opinions on the subject.

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When leaders are patient with their colleagues, they provide additional support and show them that it is good to go at their own pace. Unfortunately, the process of bringing about change is not linear, so leaders need to set realistic expectations for their teammates and be open to feedback.

Leaders who seek advice, not feedback, enhance psychological security by allowing colleagues and peers to feel confident in making mistakes, asking questions, and challenging without worrying about the consequences of failure. When individuals are given the opportunity to contribute, they feel more aligned with the goals of the team and the company, strengthening their willingness to invest more effort and energy in projects and completing tasks.

But this cycle is a two-way street. Your team members need your advice to improve their efforts and stay in line with common goals. The council should not be harsh criticism, but it should strengthen short-term and long-term goals so that your people can follow the reward without losing the forest among the trees.

In the current state of insecurity in companies and businesses, efforts must be coordinated to eliminate as much uncertainty and stress as possible in order to protect people from a state of “fight, flight or freezing”.

We are all together in this

Leaders create future leaders. And when you lead the change, you will be surprised to see who steps on the plate to help you facilitate that change.

Great leaders have ripple effects throughout their company that create changes in momentum and company culture, so metrics and data points can’t always track their results.

The community is at the heart of leading change, because business is the sum of its people. Whoever said “business is not personal” obviously does not understand business because it is personal. This includes building relationships and trust and facilitating growth in many aspects of a company.

Making a change should not be difficult when you are focused on using the right tools and tactics to create it. This can be one of the most rewarding things a leader can do, so we need more people to actively pursue him!

Change is inevitable, and once you figure out how to make it easier by changing your brain, it can be easy.

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Presented photo credit: Hannah Bussing via

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