Reactions to Change

When people encounter any kind of change, they typically progress through a series of phases. There are several frameworks that help clarify human reaction to change, but the one I use in this post—and in chapter 15 of Change Intelligence—is adapted to CQ and based on the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who studied human reactions to death and dying. She discovered that not everyone, but many people, progressed through a similar set of thoughts, perceptions, and experiences. This model can be applied to understanding the human reaction to change, since most people initially perceive change as a threat, a danger—something to be feared.

Coping with change is a process that moves people from a focus on the past to a focus on the future, and from a focus on what’s happening in their external environment to a focus on what’s happening inside themselves. When they first learn of an impending change, particularly a significant one, many people go into denial. Next comes resistance, or at least what looks and feels like resistance to change leaders. If the resistance is effectively managed, people move to the exploration stage, testing the new direction. Finally, commitment occurs.

Understanding these reactions to change can help you predict them and can help you deploy effective approaches to addressing them. Doing so is fundamental to your ability to lead through any major change project.

The Denial Phase
Denial is a normal psychological defense mechanism. And when it comes to organizational change, it’s an understandable reaction, given the “program of the year” phenomenon and the discomfort that accompanies any major alteration in our work lives. Denial is a coping skill that enables us to protect ourselves. It helps us navigate all the new information we’re constantly bombarded with in modern life.

As a leader, how do you know when your people are in the denial stage? You’ll know when they say things like, “It’s no big deal” or, “It won’t affect us” or, “We’ll outlive this new manager and the changes he’s trying to make, just like the last guy corporate tried to shove down our throats.” People may avoid you, the change leader, just as they may avoid any exposure to the change process. Some go into withdrawal, seeming to hide out. Others may appear numb, confused, or off balance.

The Resistance Phase
In physics, resistance is defined as “a force that tends to oppose or retard motion.” During the resistance stage, it can appear that people are actively working in opposition to the change. However, in biology, resistance is defined as “the capacity of an organism to protect itself from harm.” One of the core themes of the CQ System is that what often seems to be resistance in others is really a symptom of us as change leaders not giving people what they need to “get” it, “want” it, or “do” it.

As a leader, how do you know when your people are in the Resistance stage? Resistance can take many forms, but it usually doesn’t require a doctorate in psychology to pick up on even subtle forms of opposition to the change. In the Resistance stage, participation is the most variable. Some become angry, and conflicts may abound. Others withdraw and seem helpless. People may grieve for what they fear will be lost—whether it’s security, status, skills, or social relationships. Some may become passive-aggressive, seeming to comply but then quietly resisting. Others may engage in overt sabotage.

The Exploration Phase
After the pain of the Resistance stage, the Exploration stage can feel like a welcome relief. Finally, people transition from working against the change to moving toward it. You hear people say things like, “Let’s try it!” Some cautiously stick their big toe in the water, while others jump right into the deep end.

Regardless of their pace of exploration, people finally seem to understand the change and display a more positive attitude toward it. Acceptance increases. Instead of feeling controlled, people experience a sense of autonomy. They begin to experiment with the change, look for creative alternatives, and unleash fresh energy.

Yet, unleashing energy can lead to challenging dynamics in the Exploration stage. People are still testing—they are still novices with respect to the new way of doing things. That can result in a period of chaos and confusion. People craft an abundance of ideas, but the very abundance can overwhelm them.

The Commitment Phase
The Commitment phase is the Holy Grail of any change initiative. Now people are “on board” and have “bought in,” and groups are “aligned” and “integrated.” People support the change through their words and their actions. Behaviors are in sync with long-range change goals, and short-term objectives that aren’t consistent with change are subordinated. Management actively invests resources to sustain the change. Cooperation and teamwork abound. People say, “We did it!” and experience the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a challenging goal.

However, the change leader’s role isn’t over. In the Commitment phase, change leaders can deploy a variety of tactics to sustain the change and keep people moving forward.

Teams and organizations, like individuals, also go through similar stages. Collections of people often pass through the denial, resistance, exploration, and commitment phases in sync. As change leaders, it’s essential that we diagnose and deal with these dynamics at the team and organizational level as well.

And, particularly during significant changes, or when multiple changes are occurring at once, progress through the phases may not be linear. Instead, people may move from denial, to resistance, and then back to denial because they just can’t believe that yet another change is happening. They might say, “See! They switched gears again. Nothing will really change. It’s business as usual.”

It’s frighteningly easy for people to revert to the denial phase, or to stay stuck in resistance, and that’s one reason why it’s so critical for change leaders to be armed with a knowledge of CQ and all the supplementary models and methods covered in the last two chapters of Change Intelligence.

Different change leader styles (blends of Heart, Head, and Hands) display different strengths as support people through each phase of change reactions. They also have different blind spots, and would do well to deploy different tools to help them more effectively lead their people at each step in the journey.

The more tools in your toolkit, the better equipped you are to give people what they need and to help everyone—including yourself—get where they want to go.

 

Deploying the Right Change Management Tools

Is there a difference between change leadership and change management? My answer is a resounding “Yes!” Change intelligence (CQ) is about diagnosing and developing your capacity to lead change—in other words, it’s about change leadership. Change management, on the other hand, is a set of techniques that you, the change leader, can apply to a change process. As change leaders, we pick and choose the change management approaches and techniques to bring to bear on a change situation. CQ will help you as a change leader identify which change management tools you tend to gravitate toward based on your style—and which you may tend to overuse or, conversely, overlook.

The change management tools you select should be based on not only your personal leadership style but also the phase of the “change lifecycle” your team is in. From the early 1900s when Kurt Lewin introduced his unfreezing-moving-refreezing description of the change process, many models have been offered to help us understand this change lifecycle. Most are variations on a similar theme. First you plan, then you do, then you sustain. Then, you start planning the next change. This list offers the major activities that occur at each stage in the change lifecycle.

Plan

• Create vision

• Determine readiness

• Craft plan

 

Do

• Communicate

• Train

• Modify processes

Sustain

• Adapt systems

• Ensure integration

• Examine lessons learned

Change leaders have a variety of tools at their disposal, any of which they can bring to bear during the stages of the change lifecycle. If you stay mindful of the combination of your change leader style and the dynamics of the various stages, you’ll be able to select the tools to help you meet critical change challenges, especially those you may be apt to overlook, downplay, or avoid. For a full list of the best tools to the various types of change leaders can use in the different phases of the change lifecycle, check out chapter 14 of Change Intelligence.

Applying CQ: Organizations

Both individuals and teams have a change style and level of change intelligence (CQ), and the same is true of every organization. Some companies thrive on change, responding deftly to new economies, technologies, and customer expectations, while others are slow to adapt, and still others fail to change effectively and thus die.

Unfortunately, most companies fall into the latter two categories. Why do most organizations fail to achieve their lofty transformational goals? Often, it’s because one or more of these is the case:

  • Change is not championed by leaders high enough in the organization.
  • The new change is led just the same way the last change was (which probably failed or was less than stellar).
  • There is no consistent approach to change. At best, there are pockets of “strategic planning” or “change management” methodologies sprinkled throughout the organization—perhaps a project management methodology used in IT, or a change management model touted by human resources—but they are not endorsed or deployed company-wide.
  • Leaders are not trained in change leadership. At best, they may have attended a class in change management, but they have had no opportunity to understand or develop their competency as change leaders. When change happens, they’re under fire and have no time for reflection or coaching.
  • Leaders lack awareness about what encourages people to embrace change, making it almost impossible to adapt to the needs of various audiences, lessening the probability that those stakeholders will get in action consistent with the change.
  • Resistance is ignored or perceived as a force to be overcome. The focus is on doing something to the resisters, not with or for them, even when they can potentially provide valuable perspectives. Resistance continues, expands, and ultimately derails the change process.

Sound familiar? When you look at the last change project you were involved in, can you see one or more of these dynamics at work? In isolation or in combination, they are the death knell for over 70 percent of major change initiatives. When these projects fail, the investment is wasted, employee cynicism grows, and loyalty and trust are eroded.

Just as for individuals and teams, an organization’s CQ can grow over time. Individuals can become more powerful change leaders through diagnosing and developing their own CQ, and teams can become more impactful in leading a change initiative through a CQ-based team-building experience. In the same way, the more CQ is infused into an organization—layered up, down, and across it—the more positive, predictable, and pervasive the company’s results will be.

CQ at the organizational level isn’t an add-on program, another task to complete, or another box to check. Rather, it is a model and mindset that empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to fundamentally alter the way they lead any kind of change initiative. When deployed effectively, the CQ approach becomes “how we do change in this organization,” not just an appendage that’s sometimes used and sometimes isn’t. Companies that use the CQ System in this way find that it becomes a common language and a compass that points the way toward promising new outcomes.

Once members of an organization understand that they need to inspire the Heart, engage the Head, and help the Hands in each and every change initiative, they can employ a variety of other tools to heighten their change intelligence. Are executives committed to sponsoring the change? Perhaps a Leadership Alignment tool can help (to inspire the Heart). Are managers aware of the change and informed sufficiently so they can cascade the message to the troops? Perhaps they can utilize communication-planning methodologies (to engage the Head). Are frontline employees trained to use the new technology? Supervisors can deploy a learning plan (to help the Hands). In this way, CQ enables appropriate integration of methodologies from a variety of disciplines, spanning from change management to project planning and beyond.

Without an understanding of CQ, these types of tools are often deployed slavishly, to every project, whether they are needed or not. Or they are not used at all or not at the right time or in the right ways. Knowledge of CQ alerts leaders to when and how these supplemental approaches may make a positive difference. Furthermore, once a common toolkit of methodologies is installed across the system, everyone—from executives to the front line—will be singing off the same sheet of music, so to speak. No longer will helpful tools be used haphazardly; instead, everyone will be working in clearly understood and consistent ways to make the change come to life.

To paraphrase a TV commercial, CQ doesn’t do change, it helps you do change better. The CQ System helps leaders integrate additional tools at the right time in the right way to ensure that everyone is on the same productive path toward real organizational change.

To put the CQ System to work in your company and enhance its ability to lead change, you need to:

  • Start at the top.
  • Develop change leaders at all levels. Provide formal training as well as manager and peer coaching.
  • Cascade down and move across the organization. Plant many seeds.
  • Utilize the CQ methods and tools to develop a consistent language and approach to change.
  • Integrate other change methodologies to develop a system-wide change toolkit.
  • Avoid labeling initiatives as “programs.” Change is constant and ubiquitous. Treat change like a way of life, which it is.
  • Practice courageous conversations. As Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson remind us in their book The One Minute Manager, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Get feedback and feedforward (ala Marshall Goldsmith), from above and below.

If you regularly revisit these strategies and apply them in your organization, you’ll soon begin to see the benefits of the CQ System across the company: change happens with less resistance and strife, becomes part of the organization’s essence (rather than evaporating after a short period of time and leaving you short on results), and leads to positive outcomes at every level.

Applying CQ in Teams

A fundamental part of understanding CQ is understanding which type of change leader you are—a Coach, a Visionary, an Executer, a Champion, a Driver, a Facilitator, or an Adapter, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. When they learn about these types, most of my clients ask me the same question, and it’s a good one: “What blend of change leader styles is best to have on a team? Is there an ideal team profile?”

In the short term, a particular team profile may be most appropriate to address a specific need. A Driver team (strong on Head and Hands) would be invaluable for a high- intensity, make-it-or-break-it turnaround. A Champion team (favoring Head and Heart capabilities) would be particularly adept at rallying an organization around a radically new vision. A Facilitator team (skilled at Heart and Hands) would be of great assistance in implementing a complex new technology on the front lines.

Just as there is no ideal individual profile, there is ultimately no ideal team profile. Success lies in how aware the team is of its CQ blend and what it does to leverage it. Just as the best change leaders are enlightened by knowledge of their style, their strengths, and their blind spots, so it is for the ideal team.

My longest-standing co-facilitator and I are the opposite styles. I’m a Champion, and he’s an Executer. When we first met, it was like we were speaking two different languages, and I couldn’t get where he was coming from half the time. However, we both trusted and respected each other. As we learned each other’s styles, we began to value and appreciate what each other brought to the table.

Over the years, the two of us have led many change projects together. Invariably, he owns the project plan—and mercifully so! His spreadsheets boast multiple worksheets, many tabs, and an abundance of color. Every i dotted and t crossed. I, on the other hand, tend to take the lead with facilitating project meetings. That said, his more detail-oriented and unemotional style can play better with technically oriented types. We are each a good balance to the other. Clients get the benefit of both our styles, our different perspectives and provocative viewpoints, and our complementary skill sets.

It’s not necessarily that Champions and Executers are natural-born partners; the benefit comes from my co-facilitator and I exploring our own brand of change intelligence and using our awareness of each other’s predispositions and working styles to collaborate effectively.

One caveat as you apply CQ to your team: Be sure that you don’t dump all responsibility on certain individuals because the work seems suited to their CQ style. Don’t assume that just because you’re the Visionary, you’ll always own the strategy. Don’t assume that because you’re the Coach, all the people dynamics fall on your plate. Don’t dump all the minutiae of project planning on the Executer or have the Champion make all the executive presentations. Don’t expect the Facilitator to run every team meeting or the Driver to kick butt and take names when things go awry. That’s stereotyping. We each have a profile, but “profiling” is forbidden!

Teams charged with leading change together can reap great benefits from exploring their collective change intelligence. Here are some questions to spark dialogue and new working agreements for future success.

  1. What is our team’s value to the organization, particularly with respect to leading change?
  2. Is our team operating as effectively as it could be?
  3. If not, why not? Can a deficit of CQ explain any of these reasons?
  4. How can we apply our knowledge of CQ to improve our team’s effectiveness?
  5. How are we leading change effectively? What are the positive things happening in our current change project?
  6. How can the CQ System help us understand the ways we aren’t leading change effectively? What are the negative aspects of our current change project?
  7. Is there a previous change project we can learn from—one we can dissect and interpret in light of what we now know about CQ? Can we create agreements among the team based on these insights and then carry them forth into the future?
  8. What is our team’s overall change leader style? Given that, at what aspects of leading change do we predict our team will excel? What are our team’s strengths?
  9. What aspect of CQ (Heart, Head, or Hands) is our team lowest in? Which team member (or members) provides a complementary perspective that can help the team overcome its blind spots? What contributions can specific team members make to increase the effectiveness and positive impact of the team’s actions?
  10. Taken together, what are action steps for us to build our CQ as a team to lead powerful, positive change?

By the end of this discussion, the team will have reached a consensus on how to improve relationships and roles within the team and will have made new agreements on how best to enhance processes and results.

Periodically, bring the team back together to review its progress, make any necessary course corrections, and celebrate its successes!

Adapters: Capitalizing on Strengths, Shoring Up Weak Spots

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The seventh and final change leader type is the Adapter, relies equally on all three.

Adapters are role models for friendliness to change. When at their best, they emerge as positive, engaging ambassadors for change.

In The Leadership Challenge, James Kouzes and Barry Posner list the five pillars of great leaders, and one of them is a willingness to “Challenge the Process.” As the change leader style most open to experimentation, Adapters may be naturally inclined to do as Kouzes and Posner recommend and “search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and exercising ‘outsight,’ and experiment and take risks by generating small wins and learning from experience.”

Adapters generally help others do the same as well. Their natural inquisitiveness and change-friendliness increases the probability that they will create an environment in which people can arrive at insights themselves; and when people arrive at their own insights, they’re much more likely to own the change. As David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz write in their article “The Neuroscience of Leadership,” “At a moment of insight, a complex set of new connections [in the brain] is being created. These connections have the potential to enhance our mental resources and overcome the brain’s resistance to change. But to achieve this, given the brain’s limited working memory, we need to make a deliberate effort to hardwire an insight by paying it repeated attention. That is why employees need to ‘own’ any kind of change initiative for it to be successful . . . For insights to be useful, they need to be generated from within, not given to individuals as conclusions.”

Adapters need to remember that flexibility and agreeableness are probably not the legacy they want to leave behind them as business leaders. Yes, great leaders need to consider the input of others and remain open to course corrections during times of change. But they also need to make unpopular decisions and keep moving forward confidently, with their compass pointed toward true north.

I take a closer look at Adapters, along with the other six leadership styles, in Change Intelligence. You may already have a hunch on which type you are, but included in the book is a code to access an assessment that will give you a definitive answer on which of these change leader styles is your own.

Adapters, Part I

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The seventh and final change leader type is the Adapter, who relies equally on all three.

Adapters exist at the crossroads between Head, Heart, and Hands. They have a uniform score on all three dimensions. They can easily employ all three—each as it is needed—without being committed to one; and they relate well to others. But Adapters’ impact as change leaders may actually be lessened because of their lack of a preference for one type. While the capacity to flex one’s approach is generally an asset, at times others can find it difficult to relate to Adapters because of their changeability.

If you are an Adapter, because you are naturally skilled at utilizing all the tools in the change leader toolkit, you connect with a wide variety of stakeholders in the change process and are comfortable experimenting with creative ways to move the process forward. You excel at flexibility, inventiveness, and teamwork.

But people may find you hard to read because of your lack of a dominant change leadership style, and you may sometimes struggle with which path to pursue because of your versatility. Your genuine adaptability coupled with your desire to be part of the group can sometimes cause you to focus too much on compromise—at the expense of advocating for tough stances, at least in the short term. You’re also adept at promoting change behind the scenes, but you would do well to ensure that such behavior is perceived positively by others and not as divisive scheming.

As an Adapter, you excel as a leader because you often:

  • Like to be personally involved and engaged with a wide variety of stakeholders in the change process—you are a very active and vocal change leader
  • Are curious about what others think and feel, are open-minded, and consider the input of others
  • Enjoy playing the role of a devil’s advocate and challenging group assumptions or plans
  • Like to experiment with different ways of doing things, thereby exhibiting flexibility and a willingness to adapt as you learn through the change process
  • Show others that you are willing to compromise in order to overcome resistance or to convince others to take the first step in a new direction

Despite all this, your strengths come with a few shortfalls. Adapters also sometimes:

  • Can be so flexible that it can be difficult for you to determine which behaviors to deploy to reach your goals
  • May at times value reaching an agreement above making a less-popular decision that makes better business sense (at least in the short term)
  • Can be perceived as going around the chain of command when you work “behind the scenes” to achieve your objectives
  • Can become bored by routine and tempted to stir things up to alleviate monotony
  • Can be rigid or inflexible under pressure or when stressed

So while your flexibility as an Adapter can open you up to experimentation and interactivity, you can also be unpredictable and inconsistent. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.

Facilitators: Capitalizing on Strengths, Shoring Up Weak Spots

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The sixth change leader type is the Facilitator, who has strong Heart and Hands capabilities.

High-performance, high-participation organizations display constancy of vision and flexibility of approach. That’s good news for Facilitators, who excel at practical, creative, hands-on change leadership.

In The Heart of Change, Kotter writes,

People change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings. The central challenge is not strategy, not systems, not culture. These elements and many others can be very important, but the core problem without question is behavior—what people do, and the need for significant shifts in what people do . . . Changing behavior is less a matter of giving people analysis to influence their thoughts than helping to see a truth to influence their feelings. Both thinking and feeling are essential, and both are to be found in successful organizations, but the heart of change is in the emotions. The flow of see-feel-change is more powerful than that of analysis-think-change.

Given their penchant for “making it real,” Facilitators are naturally gifted in helping others see and feel the positive impacts of change, and as Kotter notes, this is pivotal in organizational transformation. Once a Facilitator bolsters his strong focus on the Heart and Hands with conscious attention to the Head, he’ll be ready to lead positive change and invigorate his career.

I look more deeply into the role and the traits of the Facilitator in Change Intelligence.

Facilitators, Part I

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The sixth change leader type is the Facilitator, who has strong Heart and Hands capabilities.

Facilitators excel at Heart and Hands, and some say this is the best of all possible combinations, because they emphasize both task and process— they make change happen and care about how it happens. Facilitators foster change by encouraging involvement, using their listening skills, and adroitly resolving differences. At times, however, they may lose sight of the big picture and forget where the change process is ultimately leading. Facilitators may also be reluctant to provide constructive criticism for fear of disrupting relationships.

If you are a Facilitator, then more than any other style of change leader, you are adept at “facilitating,” making the change process smooth and helping others through it. You ensure that change happens day by day, and you notice how the change process affects everyone around you. You are participative, involved, and resourceful.

As a Facilitator, you have a handle on short-term change objectives, but you may not be as good at keeping an eye on long-term business goals. A broader, more strategic view will likely make you a more effective leader, helping ensure that the actions that make up the project plan align with the ultimate destination. At times you may need to step out of your comfort zone to confront people who are not behaving consistently with the change, and you’ll have to remember not to take on too many tasks yourself.

What makes Facilitators great leaders is that they tend to:

  • Be participative, facilitative leaders
  • Encourage others to work together toward goals in a structured and well-planned manner
  • Be creative in partnering with others to invent new ways to accomplish objectives
  • Demonstrate a can-do attitude and sincere willingness to roll up your sleeves and work alongside others to get things done
  • Actively seek to provide people with the tools, training, and support they need

But what can mar your assets is that you sometimes:

  • Focus more on the immediate what and how instead of the long-term and bottom-line why
  • Can get caught up in the process of making the change happen and not devote time to periodically revisiting whether the plan and path still make sense as things evolve
  • Can take on too much yourself
  • May not aggressively coach and deal with underperformers and those resisting the change
  • May not consistently appear savvy in communicating the vision, strategy, and business case

You’re an involved, resourceful, good listener, but your intense focus on the immediate can at times make you come across as too tactical or too hesitant to confront others. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.

Drivers: Capitalizing on Strengths, Shoring Up Weak Spots

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The fifth change leader type is the Driver, who’s strong in both Head and Hands.

In the classic business book In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. list eight principles of excellent, innovative companies. The first is “A bias for action, for getting on with it.” Drivers have that nailed!

But a key challenge for Drivers is to, as John Kotter puts it in his book The Heart of Change, “increase the sense of urgency” in others. Kotter writes that leaders need to “raise a feeling of urgency so that people start telling each other ‘we must do something’ about the problems and opportunities.” Kotter recommends “reducing the complacency, fear, and anger that prevent change from starting.” To do so, Drivers must consider the emotions of others. Particularly for technically oriented Drivers, it can be useful to remember to see emotions—both your own and others’—as data. To collect this data, Drivers benefit from “managing by walking around,” soliciting information about what people are thinking and feeling. Such data often proves invaluable in leading change.

It’s been said that the longest journey a person must take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart, and that can be particularly true for Drivers. In Beyond the Wall of Resistance, Rick Maurer lists “failing to appreciate the power of fear” as one of the top mistakes leaders make that results in resistance to change. He goes on to say that “when fears are triggered, humans’ ability to take in information goes down. In other words, people can’t hear what we’re talking about even if they try.” When Drivers don’t balance their forceful style and sense of urgency with people smarts, they can scare people into ineffectiveness.

Because of their natural bias for fast, effective action, many Drivers see involving people and listening to their fears as an impediment, a slowing down. And yet, when they can overcome this reluctance, they discover that better ideas emerge and that people work hard in support of the leader and the change.

I explore more what this means and go through some workplace examples in Change Intelligence.

Next up, we’ll introduce the Facilitator.

Drivers, Part I

We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The fifth change leader type is the Driver, who’s strong in both Head and Hands.

Change leaders who are Drivers are all about results—they hunger to achieve the objectives of the change initiative. They are focused on both the short-term and long-term aspects of the change, and they will do whatever it takes to complete the immediate task and move toward the ultimate goal. They pitch in, share their expertise, and work long and hard toward objectives. But while they focus on the strategic and tactical business issues, Drivers may not give sufficient attention to the people aspects of the change process. They may be so focused on the work that they fail to raise important questions about the impact of the change on organizational culture, team dynamics, or individual people.

More than any other style, the Driver wants results. If you’re a Driver, you value and place a high degree of time and attention on getting the job done, simultaneously focusing on the strategic change goal as well as on the tactical plans necessary to accomplish objectives along the way. You excel at being forceful, pragmatic, and analytical.

It will come as no surprise to most Drivers that they don’t always pay sufficient attention to the people side of change. You will significantly increase your ability to lead lasting, meaningful, truly impactful change by engaging more with a wide variety of stakeholders, crafting messages that connect with affected groups, and attempting to understand and alleviate people’s concerns during the change process. Incorporating more genuine warmth and interest in others will help you emerge not just as a strong leader but as a caring mentor as well.

As a driver, your style of leadership is effective because you usually:

  • Have a keen grasp of strategy and execution
  • Know where you want to go and how you need to get there, and are able to focus on both the what and the how of change
  • Are tireless in pursuit of goals
  • Balance dealing with current state while putting systems and processes in place to move the organization toward the future
  • Are not afraid to face brutal facts and confront harsh realities

However, your acute focus on strategy and execution means you often overlook the people involved. Some of your leadership faults result because you sometimes:

  • May not give sufficient attention to the cultural components of change
  • May not appear to focus adequately on people’s individual needs or on team dynamics
  • Complain about lack of progress toward goals and the less-than-optimal efforts of others
  • Do not give sufficient attention to the process by which goals are reached
  • Can seem less interested in obtaining buy-in from others, incorporating their opinions into solutions and strategies, or engaging in two-way dialogue with them.

Although you’re sometimes seen as a stubborn and overly direct poor listener, others also admire you for being pragmatic, focused, and confident. When you have a full understanding of these facets of your leadership style, you can go about maximizing the good and minimizing the weak spots.