Why some leaders don’t embrace change

3 reasons why leaders may be hesitant to support a change project

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Leadership is the top success factor of every change project. In fact, the success of change projects is dependent on leaders.

If leaders are not on board with a change, then the risk to success is critical. Here are three reasons why leaders might not embrace a change – and what you can do to get them on board.

The leader doesn’t agree with the change

A leader may or may not admit it, but they may not support the decision to change. Maybe they think the change initiative is the wrong strategy, or maybe it is not the best timing. Or their team (or the leader personally) may be impacted by the change.

Even the best decisions don’t always have 100% support. For the same reasons that employees may not agree with a change, leaders too may not agree.

Get to the root of their concern

Leaders know the business and they know their people. Their hesitation – whether vocal or reserved – can be seen as an opportunity instead of a roadblock. Through interviews with leaders, change practitioners can identify risks that may or may not have been previously known.

Create a case for change

Equip yourself with all the key data about the current state and the desired state, including the reasons for change. Be prepared to make a valid case for the reasons the change is required. At the same time, analyze the consequences of not activating the change. With the reluctant leaders, weigh the risks of not changing against the risks of changing.

The leader doesn’t have the resources

It is difficult to be enthusiastic about a project if it will be a burden on the team. As a change practitioner, you can contribute to advocating for the necessary resources for a change initiative by identifying what is necessary for a change to be successful – and the risks of insufficient skills, knowledge or number of people.

You may have to either justify the expense of recruitment or show how existing staff within the organization can be reshuffled to fill the roles. By identifying projects that are competing for people’s time and effort, you can help leaders prioritize projects and timelines. 

The leader doesn’t have enough time

Leaders are people too. They are facing their own challenges, pressures and commitments, and they may not have taken the time to understand how the change could make their own work more efficient and successful.

Your role as a change practitioner is to provide support so the leader has the time, capacity and interest in fulfilling the most important job in a change: be the leader. 

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