The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Resistance and engagement

When a leader encounters resistance to change, his first task will be to explore what dialogue is possible in this situation.

There are many reasons why resistance can come up. One of them is as simple as testing the leader’s determination and understanding of the proposed change. Whenever this is the reason, it can be safely assumed that there is a willingness to engage in the project. It also highlights the desire to remain in the organization.

The question for the leader then becomes how to unlock the willingness to engage in the change. Or to overcome the underlying anxiety present in the resistance. Sometimes this happens through winning arguments, sometimes through persuasion, and sometimes by accepting the risk that the person will be frustrated but might find out that it dissolves as the project progresses and becomes clearer.

Instead, leaders sometimes fear that resistance is a sign of conditional belonging. They fear the autonomy an individual has. Especially the one to decide that leaving the organization is the better choice.

However, frustration belongs to living in a community. People know this, despite the seemingly present expectations to succeed and the assumption that this means getting what one wants. People are willing to accept frustration, but it must be aligned with their engagement and seen by the leader as part of their commitment to belong.

It is an illusion that there always will be agreement or that such agreement is achievable. The presence of such an illusion is part of the hope that change or leadership can be free from risk.




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