Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Three Prerequisites To Drive Change

Drive Change

A few weeks back, I was in a conversation with a young mentee to discuss a challenge she was encountering. She had just joined a new organization in a leadership role and wanted to introduce some changes to the operating procedures. But, unfortunately, other leadership team members were a little aloof and cold to the ideas she was proposing.

Her predicament was this. 

“I have a problem. If I back off, I’ll appear weak. If I push my way through, I worry that there may be combative conversations that may ensue. I am still new in the new organization, and I don’t want to start by ruffling feathers. What must I do?”

I had a few questions for my young friend.

“Do you have the power to make the changes without the need for the buy-in of others?”

The answer was “no”.

“Do you have enough credibility with the other leadership team members where they trust what you have to propose to go along?”

The answer was “no”.

“Do you have good working relationships with your colleagues where they would be willing to back you on your recommended changes?”

The answer was “no”.

Influence Is Key To Drive Change

You can drive change only if you have Influence of some form, and Influence can come from any of the following.

Position Power- You have the power vested in you by the management team to make the changes. You don’t need anyone else’s endorsement for making the changes. This is positional power.

Credibility- You have the technical skills, experience, and background in a particular domain that makes you a domain expert. You gain Influence because of your domain expertise. People will listen to what you say only if they acknowledge your expertise.

Great Working Relationships- You have built trusting relationships with others within the organization where people know you for who you are. They understand your intentions and your motivations behind the changes you propose. Thanks to the deep bond you have created with them, they are willing to go along with what you recommend because they trust you. Of course, good relationships alone are not enough, but they are necessary if you want to drive change in a work setting.

The conversation with my young mentee ended with three key takeaways.

  1. When in a new work setting, don’t be in a hurry to bring in changes. Even though you may have the power to affect some of the changes, it is prudent to take your time. It is people with short-term orientation who are always in a hurry. People with a long-term outlook are never in a hurry. 
  2. You have the domain expertise, but the other folks don’t know about it. Figure out ways to convey to the broader team your expertise. Show, don’t tell. Your actions will communicate your domain expertise better than your words.
  3. Lastly, invest time in building genuine connections with the people in the new organization. Understand their points of view before presenting yours. Figure out what their challenges are and how you can assist them in dealing with their issues. The more you add value to what they do, the more influencing power you get. 

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