Karin’s Leadership Articles

Trust me, I’ve seen that look.

The #areyouinsane? look.

The #whatplanetareyoufrom? grimace.

The #thischickisclearlyfromHR lament.

The #anddoesnthaveaclue freak out.

A few months later, they were all in. Not because of some clever incentive program. Not because of beautiful spin. Almost entirely because they could taste the win.

If you’re struggling to gain traction on a new idea or program, you may be dealing with one of these five sources of resistance.

1. They’ve seen this movie before.

If you have to start with “This time is really different,” for goodness sake, take three steps back and be sure that is true. You can only say that once with real credibility.

2. They don’t trust you.

Ouch. This one’s a harder nut to crack, and it just might be true. Don’t continue to “sell” this until you work on the bigger issue. Check yourself first, are your motives in their best interest? Do you trust them enough to share real information (if you don’t trust them, they won’t trust you)? Are you taking time to really listen to their concerns? To you care about them as human beings? Do you you consistently do you what you say you will?

3. They don’t trust the last guy.

This one just sucks. You’re out there with the right motives, connecting and doing the right thing, but they’ve been burned before. Don’t trash the last guy, but just keep showing up consistently to and doing the right thing again and again. Yes, yes, talk about the plan, but also tell stories that reveal who you are as a leader to build deeper connection.

4. They don’t understand why this matters.

Remember you’ve had lots of time to think about this and it makes perfect sense to you. Back up a few steps and remember some of your earlier concerns. Take time to really consider how this must look from their perspective. Develop a tight communciation strategy to consistently explain why this matters so much, be sure to include right brain (stories and emotions) and left brain appeals (facts, figures and evidence).

5. They don’t think it will work.

Ahh, well if you’re a regular reader, you know the best way to fix this is by breaking it down, and building confidence and competence in bursts.

Pushing harder just invites push-back. Dig deeper to understand why and gently pull them in your direction.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

6 Comments

  1. James McKey

    I like the advice in #3 about telling stories that are genuine and revealing to gain trust. Too often all hands are all numbers and gain trust only with the accountants and number crunchers. #4 makes tons of sense too but I’m guessing most senior leaders forget that not only were they in on the ground floor of the decision making to start a new project, but they have known about the coming change longer than anyone else and are thus further along the path to accepting change than everyone else. Perhaps telling stories about how they themselves were uncertain of this coming change at first would kill 2 birds with one stone.

    • Karin Hurt

      James, thanks so much. I agree with you about #4 being hard. That’s why it’s so important.

  2. Terri Klass

    Excellent points about overcoming resistance, Karin!

    I would add that they need to feel a part of the plan and as well as a valued contributor. Listen. Ask questions. Include their suggestions.

    Thanks Karin!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, YES! Thank as always for expanding the conversation.

  3. LaRae Quy

    Wonderful article, Karin!

    Of all the reasons you presented, #4 is really the only one a leader can directly control. Leadership can communicate why the issue is important if they simply take the time to explain it to team members. It’s so important to communicate the idea, and as you say, the use of stories is always effective.

    • Karin Hurt

      LaRae, Thanks so much for weighing in as always. Yes, these other areas are impossible to control, but so vital to influence.

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