Leading Change: Are You Strong Enough Not to Leave Scars? #peopleskills

Leading Change: Inner Strength Sustains Everyone

When leaders weaken inside, their attempts to lead change falter. The weakness can leave teams with scars that impede the very success the changes were supposed to foster.


Leaders, Are You Strong Enough NOT to Leave Scars?


Leading Change: Image is a Stone Rippling Even Trails in Sand

Leading Change: Strong Enough Not to Leave Scars? Image from Istock.com

Image licensed from Istock.com.

Leading Change: Inner Strength Ushers in Success

In 25+ years of working with leaders, I have seen a broad range of their results in leading change. I’ve seen the great, the good, the bad, and the unfortunate. One constant emerged: Leaders with inner strength that equaled the vision, ushered in success without leaving deep scars. How and why does this work?

  1. They balance purpose with empathy.

    These leaders lead change with commitment to the change and with respect for the people that must make it happen. They avoid inflicting deep scars by not weakening and tipping to one side or the other.

    When leaders focus only on the purpose they lose the people. When they focus only on the people’s feelings, they can lose momentum toward the purpose. Where is your balance between purpose and empathy? Are you strong enough to balance and not leave scars?

  2. They balance confidence and humility.

    Picture bombastic leaders leading change. What’s your gut response to this picture? Can you imagine yourself saying: They’re so full of hot air, maybe we’ll get lucky and they’ll blow away? Over confidence and lack of humility leave scars through the absence of connection.

    Humility balanced with self-confidence draws people in. This balance energizes others with care instead of repelling them like an exploding gas pipe.

    Similarly, leaders’ lack of confidence and commitment leaves everyone scarred through abandonment. Do you have the inner strength to balance self-confidence and humility? It is the sustaining force that both leads and feeds during tough times of change.

  3. They know and manage their own disappointment and demons.

    Mid-level leaders and team leads who must lead change they don’t like, are at the greatest risk of leaving deep team scars that impede success. In acting out their resistance, they use the team to protest the change. Yet this self-indulgent weakness has little power to block the change and damages morale, the teams, the respect the teams have for those leaders.

    Successful leaders don’t use the teams to resist the change. They work through their own disappointment with inner strength and commit to helping the teams thrive in change.

  4. They are optimistic realists.

    Leading change takes both optimism and realism. Leaders who lead change well are hopeful and believe in possibilities. They are also realistic not dreamy-eyed. They have the inner strength to take risks and possess the discipline to work through all the challenges.

    This balance of optimism and realism prevents the scars that come from wishful thinking, foolish fantasy, and avoidance of the truth. Inner strength to maintain this balance is key to leading change without leaving scars.

  5. They are strong enough to overcome the comfort of habit.

    The comfort of habit is a powerful force that impedes change and success. Repetition and habit create high levels of expertise that feel good. Change temporarily reduces the comfort of high performance as teams face new demands under pressure. People fear this dip in performance. It doesn’t feel good. It cuts at their personal identity.

    Leaders who understand this effect of change explain this dip as normal and inspire the learning of new skills. They make it OK to change.

    This takes inner strength. Dips in organizational performance are scary for leaders too. Strong leaders garner additional resources to minimize the dip. They also engage the teams in learning and thus lead change without inflicting the scars of unrealistic expectations and perfectionism.

    What would you add to this list for leading change? In the comments section below, please share the successes you’ve had.

Leading Change: What challenges are you having? I’m ready to help you.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leading Change, Is the Beloved Bully of Habit Stopping You?
When Tough Leaders Show Empathy
What’s So Hot About Humility Anyway?
Humility in Leadership: Myths, Fears, and Truths

©2013 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

11 Responses to “Leading Change: Are You Strong Enough Not to Leave Scars? #peopleskills”

  1. Vince says:

    Great post! #3 was a particularly thorny “demon” for years in my case. Reflecting just now on too many missed opportunities, but grateful I can see progress too!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Your honesty about #3 helps everyone Vince for truly everyone has struggled with this one. Knowing that gives everyone strength to keep on balancing!

      Thank you so much for contributing here. I look forward to reading your comments on future posts.

      Best wishes and much gratitude,

  2. Achim Nowak says:

    Kate – what a wonderfully thoughtful list of the seemingly incongruous qualities that help a leader lead through change. Two more contradictions leapt to mind as I read your words: Leaders with inner strength know how to be both inspirational and speak the harsh truth, all in the same breath. They are able to boldly claim a better future without minimizing any harsh realities of the current state, or potential challenges which may lie ahead.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Achim,
      Thank you for your contribution on this post. The balance that leaders maintain on the road of change keeps everyone on the road instead of taking detours to avoid the pain.

      At first glance the qualities do seem incongruous yet they aren’t — they are the balance points!

      Warmest thanks and regards,

  3. A great article! An excellent change communication, that takes the interpretation of the information into account, should always be a part of the process. Makes it easier to understand how the organization is really feeling about it.

  4. Natasha says:

    This is such a tricky move, mobilizing change while keeping the train (and the passengers) on the track. It is such a balancing act to make sure the majority of decisions are win:win and to not hurt important stakeholders along the way. Great post!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you Natasha for underscoring the reality — it isn’t easy. Yet it is achievable and worth it! Many thanks for your attention on this post and for contributing with comments.

      Hope you will visit again and always share your views here!

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