Replace command and control with more subtle change leadership

During any change initiative, change management is likely to experience resistance to change. The saying that “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” aptly describes many failed change programs. The decision to drink the water is not one that we can force upon the horse. Similarly, the decision to engage in the change process with enthusiasm is not one that can be forced upon an individual (or group of individuals).

Previously I’ve described seven strategies for overcoming resistance to change in the workplace. In this post you will learn about a model that influences behavioral change, by utilizing the six sources of influence.

The matrix of influence

Throughout our lives, we are subjects of influence. This influence dictates the way we feel and the way we act. The sources of influence have the power to change anything. By harnessing these sources, a leader has the same power. First, you must understand what these sources are and where they originate. This can be easily shown on a matrix of influence:





Do we want to do it?

Are we able to do it?


What do our peers believe?

Can we harness the power of numbers?


What’s in it for me?

Is the environment conducive to change?


Harnessing the six sources of influence

This model provides the power to influence change of anything. For example, losing weight. Ask yourself why you want to lose weight, get your friends and relatives to support you in your efforts, and remove all ‘temptations’ from your environment while also taking regular gym sessions.

In the workplace, the leader can influence change similarly using the following strategies:

1.    Drive personal motivation for change

Resistance to change has at its heart a fear of change and of failure. Therefore, a new way of working is undesirable. By providing a positive vision of the future and connecting that vision to personal values, you will begin to make the undesirable desirable.

2.    Increase personal ability for change

The second level of resistance is based upon personal ability. If your people don’t have the skills or experience to work in the new environment, then it is your duty to provide the training and coaching to enable them to do so. “I haven’t been shown that” should never be a phrase heard in the workplace.

3.    Deepen social motivation to change

People react to peer pressure, and group thinking. It is therefore necessary to show the group the benefits of change, link to values and beliefs, and again provide vision.

4.    Empower social ability to change

Within any group you will find four distinct communication styles. Understanding behaviors and personalities will enable you to identify those who are: dominant (good problem solvers); those who influence (communicate freely and are interested in others); those who are steady (sincere in what they say and do); and those who are compliant (cautious thinkers and accurate in their work).

Influencers motivate others. Enlist their support, and unleash their ability to promote change and influence the personal motivations of others.

5.    Provide structural motivation to empower change

People will want to know what’s in it for them, and so it is imperative that you provide structural motivations for change. For example, you may have to undertake a change in your organizational structure, making it easier for people to see a path to grow their professional careers and achieve promotion.

In providing motivations such as rewards, ensure that they are linked to the behaviors needed for the change program to be successful and that they are rewards. Consider the person, their likes and dislikes, and give something meaningful to them (for example, an afternoon off so that a father can go and watch his child’s first school performance).

6.    Create structural ability for change

Finally, the work environment must be conducive to change. Provide the tools and support needed, using both internal and external resources. Constantly revisit the benefits of change, and make it a central theme of all team meetings and one-to-one reviews. Live, eat, sleep and breath change.

An influencer has the power to change anything

If you employ a strategy of command and control when managing change, you are setting up yourself and the change initiative for failure. You can lead your people to the water, but you can’t force them to drink. Instead, change people’s minds and hearts first, harness peer pressure, and provide the environment to demand accountability and reward desired behaviors.

Is your organization prepared for transformational change? To discover how a Change Agent Bootcamp and coaching in consulting and facilitating will help your organization and leaders produce lasting change, contact Primeast today.

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