You Can Overcome the Risks of Leading Change in Your Organization

Joe Weinlick
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When business leaders set out to change an organization, they rarely think about changing themselves. Leaders are too focused on the money it takes, the talent they need and the repercussions of the new way the business works. What a CEO may not realize is that a large deterrent to the company's paradigm shift could be the CEO himself. Overcoming risks is the first step to leading the charge of change.

Repetitive Patterns

Ron Carucci, co-founder of Navalent, works with CEOs to help change an organization. Carucci notes that CEOs get into a pattern of behavior that served them well to reach the top. Unfortunately, these behaviors may show up when they try to take a company in a new direction. The stress of the process, fears and the struggle of overcoming risks involved may push a CEO to reflexively draw on his past patterns of behavior. These behaviors can get in the way of true change.

Fear of Being Wrong

The fear of being wrong may trigger indecisiveness, failure to execute important decisions and second-guessing what's going on when CEOs change an organization. This can lead to paralysis and prevent the process from happening. The people who look to you for leadership may not find it, and then question your decision-making.

Leaders must find their operative narrative before they change an organization. This narrative includes the behaviors that CEOs fall back on when things get tough. It may include a drive for perfectionism, a fear of being wrong and a lack of trust in the process. Changing this operative narrative is the key to success, and there are three things you can do kickstart your personal reflection.

1. Know Your Triggers

Knowing what sets off your behavior is one way to change it. Recognizing your triggers and how they affect the people around you can prevent any trust issues within your organization. These triggers can transfer onto others and make them doubt what's going on and doubt the CEO. Identify the triggers with deep self-reflection.

2. Write Things Down

Simply identifying triggers isn't enough. You have to get to the bottom of why those triggers affect you. Was it something deep in your past that caused you to lose faith in your abilities? Did you have to overcome a lot to get where you are today? Did a former supervisor or mentor produce some unwanted behavior within yourself? Write these triggers on paper, and then write down where they came from so you can identify them.

3. Have People Name Your Triggers

Have your inner circle name your triggers and point them out to you. Sometimes, the best help comes from a third-party observer. Pointing out your triggers helps you to pause, restructure your thoughts, and then rewrite your inner narrative.

4. Seek Help

Perhaps one way to alleviate your concerns is to seek professional help when you change an organization. Life coaches can get to the bottom of self-reflection. Organizational change managers are professionals whose sole jobs entail overseeing shifts in how an organization works with practical tips and strategies.

When you change an organization, a lot can go wrong. A lot can go right if you're successful, but you have to overcome your fears and behaviors first before you set out to redesign your company and mitigate failure.

Photo courtesy of Vigor-Enterprise at


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  • Bob R.
    Bob R.

    For Organizational Change to be successful, every leader must follow the change steps and model the behaviors they seek from other members of their organization.

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