“It is easier to introduce a fourth person into the holy Trinity than it is to change the color of the carpet in the foyer.” – Karl Beck

“Just remember this important lesson,” the leadership expert said. “When you return from this conference the people you work with want nothing to change. People have created their own levels of dysfunction and are happy in them.”

After 35+ years of studying leadership dynamics, I believe the greatest test of leadership is to positively navigate people through changes.

Here are the reasons I’ve observed as to why people don’t like change:

  • Change assumes they’re doing something wrong that needs fixed. So, at it’s core, change attacks value.
  • Change almost always involves loss and we are not comfortable losing our status, our projects and the niche we’ve worked so hard to create.
  • Change involves fear of the unknown and people don’t like fear. In fact, most of the chaos that comes with change has, at it’s roots, fear as the driving force. People don’t act rationally when they’re afraid and will almost never admit it.
  • Change often requires learning new skills and, surprisingly, many people resist learning new ways of doing things.


Here are ways I’ve observed good leaders leading people through change:

  • Reaffirm the contribution the person has had to get the organization to the point where it is.
  • Provide incentive with new titles, pay increase, extra time off, educational support and verbal rewards of those who might be struggling, but are willing, to adapt to change.
  • Help people manage the loss that comes with change. Sometimes it as simple as reassuring them they will continue to have a job.
  • Cast the vision as to why the change is needed in order for the organization to grow to it’s potential.
  • Regrettably, some times leadership has to cut ties with people who are so resistant to change that their subversion is a threat to the organization. Leaders have to do what’s best of the organization as a whole, not just cater to the individual.

The ancient philosopher, Heraclitus, said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Things are always changing and those who master the current are the ones that go the farthest.