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1 Jun 2015

Change Leadership Sets Two Key Expectations

A good change management strategy begins with knowing the group’s culture. The tough part is using that to form a strategy for organizational change. Change leadership, change management consulting or both are responsible for this.


One of the key change management principles in this strategy is the setting of expectations. Knowing culture helps to set the right ones. There are two main expectations that we need to consider from the start.

Resistance to Change Management

The change management industry exists because of resistance to change. Without it there would be no change management issues. The key to good change leadership though is to set the expectation that this is not resistance.

Consider for the moment an alternate world. In this one, change is easy, fast and frequent. Sounds good? The dark side is that it is so easy to make changes that even the bad ones are go through too. Every knee-jerk reaction to events does too.

In good light resistance is the glue that gives continuity and consistency to our groups. It makes sure that our firms do not change overnight and every night after that.

Timeline for Strategic Organizational Change

Setting a timeline for a change management strategy is the second key expectation change leadership can set. A too aggressive one will discredit management. A too lenient one will throw the change process into a stall.

Operational change management is about driving change around easily consumable parts. The timeline helps us set the scope of these parts. That is why this expectation is so key to our strategy.

Change leadership is knowing resistance to change is not really resistance.

Change leadership means setting the right expectations. It is knowing that layers of management add to resistance and that this is normal.

Change Leadership Setting of Expectations

Relationships are key to change. As they decline resistance increases. The timeline lengthens.

Some of this we cannot avoid. As groups grow the members become more detached from the leadership. More layers of management add resistance too. The complexity of the work does too.

We are biased toward big changes. We are biased toward aggressiveness too. Many other biases affect our thoughts too. It is easy for us to set expectations for big, fast changes without much thought. This is part of the reason why so many change efforts fail though.

When it comes to setting expectations, change leadership needs to set realistic ones. It starts with how the team is to see resistance and the timeline.

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