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Leading Change: Part 2

What Makes an Effective Leader?

This month we are considering four guiding principles for leading change and this week we’re discussing the second principle; supporting people through the Change Curve. 

We have already outlined how the 20/60/20 rule helps a leader to consider whether they are devoting too much time and attention to the poorer performers, the negative bottom 20%. But it’s important to distinguish between the natural anxieties that people feel when confronted with change, and the belligerent minority. The Change Curve is a useful tool for this. 


Typical Reactions to Change & How to Manage Each Stage

The model identifies ten stages that typify people’s reactions to change and what’s required by the leader to achieve a positive outcome with an engaged team: 

1. First, there’s shock. It’s hard to take in information at this early stage, so the leader simply needs to reassure and keep it brief. Remind people that your purpose hasn’t changed.

2. Denial is common after the shock of unexpected change. Provide a little more reassurance and encourage people to allow some time for adjustment. 

3. As the shock wears off there’s often an emotional reaction – for some that’s excitement, for others it will be anger. Dissipate negative emotions with positivity, focusing your time on the top 20% to help spread this attitude, and direct people’s energies towards the tasks in hand. 

4. Realisation takes over from raw emotion and a sense of uncertainty will bring forward questions. Leaders need to communicate a clear plan for how everyone will work towards the vision. 

5. Confidence may take a dip, leading to despondency. Counter this by keeping your focus on the top 20%; the middle 60% will notice this and be more likely to follow the top 20%'s lead. 

6. People have exhausted themselves fighting the inevitability of change; it’s time to let go of the past and accept a new reality. Look forward and share your belief in the opportunities to come. 

7. Individuals begin to assess how they fit in to the new reality. Look for those in your team who are beginning to adapt; recognise, acknowledge and share their good ideas. 

8. People are establishing a ‘new normal’; focus on reinforcing positive change, celebrating successes within your team. Remind staff of the vision, your plan for achieving it, and help people to understand their role is in delivering the plan. 

9. Life’s moved on! Make sure you celebrate with your team the successes which are coming from a new sense of optimism. 

10. Remember to continue to work on stages 8 & 9 as people can slip back to their old ways. 

So, there you have it…a 10 stage plan for effective change. With over three-quarters of change initiatives failing then this 10-stage process may save you time and money. 


If you would like to learn more about Effectively Leading Change you can have a look at our online course here. 100% accessible online 24/7 and with the option of adding one-to-one coaching, this short course focuses on why change is important, and introduces tools and models that will help you to lead people through change. It explores different types of change and desired end results as well as helping you to consider how you can move towards high performance and being one step ahead of the competition.

Leading Change is one of the main themes on our LEAD™ program where we assist business leaders with high performance leadership, amongst other areas. To find out more about the program, please send us a message.


Next Week

...we will address how effective leaders adjust their style, not only in response to significant high-impact change but also in the light of everyday situations. 


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Jo Draper

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