Leading Positive Change

Getting your team, stakeholders, senior management etc. on board during the change process is commonly cited as the secret to making the change initiative a success. For this reason, leaders who can encourage their peers to not only accept change, but embrace a change initiative, are often the most successful. In this sense, motivating your peers to change themselves allows organisation-wide change to occur more smoothly and efficiently. Motivating your peers to get behind the change process can be very difficult, in particular due to employees being not willing to change their habits and failing to see how the change will benefit them. It is therefore important to motivate them to support the change in any way you can. Three motivators are often cited, emotional, intellectual and structural, when we discuss how to lead the change process.


Completing this process is more complicated than simply relaying the change message to others, successful leaders use their peers emotions to generate their support for the change initiative. Individuals’ feelings and emotions are often underestimated when workplace decisions are being made, and this is no less the case during a change strategy. If you can make your peers feel for why the process needs to be changed or how the outcome will benefit them you have a far greater chance of getting their support. When studying the success of change initiatives amongst 100s of Fortune 1000 executives, CIO found emotions to be the strongest predictor of success. You can read more about it here.


You can also reach out to individuals’ intellectual side, convincing them that the change makes sense. This can be from a legal, social or financial perspective, for example. Figures, facts or past examples can be used to emphasis the likely success of the change, the important part is to convince your peers they are making a logical and intelligent decision by supporting the change.


The final element is structural. Convincing your peers that the change will make a noticeable difference to them and will be worth the effort can motivate them to believe in the change. This element falls between the emotional and intellectual elements, as you are appealing to their emotional side as they must believe the change will affect their work but they must also see this concrete benefits too.

It is important to understand that it is not always possible to reach out to all three of these elements and some are more appropriate in different situations. For example, if you are suggesting a cost saving strategy to senior management that only affects a very small team it is unlikely they will feel emotionally involved. However, if the change will save the organisation money and have consequences throughout the business you may easily relate to their intellectual side. Choosing which element, if not all of them, to relate to is an important decision and is likely to depend on the change itself and the nature of the person you are trying to convince. Remember, reaching out to all three of these elements when trying to motivate your peers to support a change process will give you the best chance of success.