Forcing Change Vs. Influencing Change in the Workplace

Effective leadership development is about creating a work environment in which workers respect their team leader and are willing to give him or her the benefit of the doubt when it comes to making changes. Ineffective leadership development relies on forcing change and imposing a "survival of the fittest" mentality among team members.

Real power is accumulated over time, and comes from team building that is based on logic, mutual respect, and acknowledgment of team member contributions. Once a leader has that power, he or she can wield it effectively with excellent communication, honesty, and even the occasional expression of doubt. But if a leader forces change because he or she thinks it's more efficient than getting team members on board, then the team risks losing effectiveness or falling apart altogether.

Workers who feel that their professional development is compromised by a leader's choices or by a leader's forced changes are not loyal. Good leaders must show every team member exactly why a change is necessary, how steep the learning curve will be, and how changes can make a positive difference in their job satisfaction. Leaders who ignore this will find that any power they've earned is soon gone. 

I once saw a poster in a dentist's office that said, "Just ignore your teeth and they'll go away." Well, leaders who ignore team members' concerns will find that their workers go away too. Imposition of a paradigm shift in the workplace must be accompanied by frequent, honest, and effective communication, or else people will tend to fill in the blanks in their knowledge with wild conjecture or paranoia, neither of which benefit the team. Ideally, you want workers to have the information and encouragement necessary so that they will understand the reasons for change, and come to their own conclusion that a change is exactly what is needed.