To Successfully Guide Your Team Through Change, Start with Emotional Intelligence
“Change is not a threat, it’s an opportunity. Survival is not the goal, transformative success is.”
– Seth Godin
It’s always curious to me when my client conversations take on a theme. This past month has included many coaching conversations about how to effectively lead change – both for yourself and for others on your team.
Thanks to a comfort zone issue, humans like things to be relatively calm and orderly. Even the riskiest among us are likely to choose some level of known commodity. This commitment to the comfort zone causes many to view change as threatening. Certainly the status quo is threatened, yet many of us internalize the request to change as dangerous. This causes all types of wonky protective behaviors and stymies constructive conversation.
In reality, change is the essence of transformation as it paves the way for something new, improved, or innovative. Every step in our personal and professional evolution involves change and embracing the “new.” Despite this, we often resist change.
Understanding the Process of Change
There are multiple frameworks to understand the change process, and one that resonates with me is an adaptation of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. Originally conceived as a way to explain the process we go through as we let go of this earthly life or mourn the loss of another, the stages apply remarkably well to any type of change. After all, change is a death to what is known.
The Kübler-Ross model includes 5 stages of grief:
It’s important to understand that these stages are not always linear, and emotions can fluctuate between them. Not everyone has a cookie cutter expression of emotions, so empathy is vital as you navigate through them.
Emotional Regulation Minimizes Change-Related Drama
This is where great leadership comes into play. In The Humanized Leader, one of the first skills we master is emotional regulation. Change triggers emotions in ourselves and others. As Humanized Leaders, we create emotional safety by understanding emotional intelligence, recognizing the discomfort that accompanies comfort-zone expansion, and managing our emotional triggers. Your emotional regulation helps to keep all players out of the drama triangle, which provokes all of the dysfunctional behaviors you will find in the five stages of change.
As you acknowledge the fear of change and your ability to regulate emotions, two crucial steps emerge:
How Leaders Navigate the 5 Stages of Change
As a Humanized Leader, you have two sets of action steps for each stage of change. First, you’ll work to understand and regulate your emotions. Next, you’ll lead your team through the change management process.
Let’s look more deeply at what you can do in each of the five phases:
Learn to Manage Change to Bring Out Your Best
Whether you are navigating a significant pivot in corporate strategy, undergoing a comprehensive restructuring, exploring opportunities to sell your business, implementing a cutting-edge new system, or introducing dynamic leaders into your organization, it is crucial to recognize that change is an inevitable part of growth and progress. Your emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in effectively managing these transformative endeavors, ensuring the well-being and success of both yourself and those under your guidance.
By consciously embracing these principles, you can effectively navigate and harness the transformative power of change, propelling your organization and yourself towards lasting success and fulfillment.
Mary Pat Knight is CEO of Leaders Inspired an executive coaching and consulting agency devoted to the development of emotionally intelligent leaders. She is also the author of the Amazon #1 International Best Selling book, The Humanized Leader.
The ground-breaking new book, The Humanized Leader: The Transformative Power of Emotionally Intelligent Leadership to Impact Culture, Team and Business Results, is now available in Kindle, paperback, or as an audiobook. To get your copy or extras for your team, click the button below.