Leading Change You Don’t Believe In: Can You Fake It?

As noted in a previous post the first step in managing such change is for senior management to make sense of the new initiative. Making sense means to recognize its shortfalls and to acknowledge its departure from the shared vision. It also means describing its constructive qualities. It may be the best route for keeping the organization alive.

Once team leaders begin to make sense of the proposed change, the next step is for them to develop a personal positive on the initiative. It is a challenge to make one’s peace with a problematic change initiative, but the alternatives are costly.

Faking Enthusiasm Is A High Cost, High Risk Strategy

• First, faking is energy intensive. True enthusiasm has some qualities of a perpetual motion machine. The more energy you put into work that you love, the more energy you derive from the activities and its impact. Fake enthusiasm lacks that glorious feedback cycle. You put energy into the project but nothing meaningful comes back. It just continues to absorb your energy.

• Second, faking convincingly is a refined skill. If you are not a professional actor, the performance will likely fall flat. Some of your team members, if not all, have enough experience and insight to recognize when an initiative truly deserves enthusiasm. They likely know their leader well enough to know when that leader is being genuine.

So, all that energy may be for nothing: a high energy performance that convinces no one.

Cynicism Falls Flat

Taking a cynical approach to a new change has a devastating impact. It discourages team members who look to their leader to provide hope for the future. Although they may indulge in cynical chatter among themselves, it is an indulgence that leaders forsake when they take responsibility for a team. A cynical perspective undermines the leader with senior management as well. Although senior management may recognize the challenges in selling this clearly flawed initiative, they believe that team leaders are obliged to make their best effort to do so.

So, what course does one sail through these treacherous waters?

A following post will explore that thorny question.

Previous Posts in this Series

Leading Change You Don’t Believe In

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