Keep Asking Why…And You Might Find a Paradox

A lot of what I talk about is common sense, just not common practice. So I keep asking why.

Why do we as leaders do the opposite of what we should do when we’re leading a change? Why do we solve problems by ourselves during a change, making our changes top down? Why do we get wrong what’s going to work during a change? Why do our efforts to move fast backfire? We have process maps: Why can’t the change happen as planned?

Fortunately, my why-asking has paid off. Here’s why: It’s because leading change is a paradox. An irony. A contradiction.

Turns out, the very things that make us great leaders every day can make us terrible leaders of change. Crazy enough: the things we’re best at—things we’re rewarded for, promoted for, expected to do each day—they can be precisely the wrong things for a change.

We solve problems all day; it’s what we do. When we solve a change ourselves and hand it down to our people without their input, they push back.

Our deep business knowledge—a must-have when running a business—can mask what we don’t know…like how things actually work each day in our organizations. So our ideas for “here’s how things will work” during a change are naïve.

Our action orientation—”the world is moving fast, we can’t fall behind”—blinds us to the need for alignment first. We can’t have our people going in all directions and try to lead them through a change.

Our emphasis on process—something we need or we’ll be directionless—can’t overcome the fact that if our people don’t want to change, they won’t. This is not North Korea. Our people can go other places, or they can stay inside and simply resist.

Change is a paradox. That’s why.

Now we must overcome this paradox. Knowledge is the first step.

Let me know what you think. I look forward to being in touch.


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