In the book Wired to Resist, Author Britt Andreatta shares insights on the impact brain science has in helping leaders to work through the change process. Fundamentally, the brain is “wired to resist” changes in order to seek comfort and normalcy. As an illustration, Andreatta makes a comparison between someone leading the change process and a leader taking a group of people on a hike. Even before setting foot, Britt talks about the need to “Ready the Travelers” on the journey through a change process. A leader cannot just think about the magnitude of the change that will be occurring, but how “prepared” are the people in going through the change process.
Consider these “Three Tips to Lighten the Load”:
Tip #1: Identify the “Heavy” Load. Britt challenges the leader to consider the “weight” of the load the people going through change process are already carrying. We might be able to consider the load regarding their “work life”, but without relationship and open dialogue, we might not know about their load from their personal life (and even that might not be enough). Take time to stay in regular contact in communication with others to understand how they are doing, in all areas of their life. Share insights about yourself and personal life; it’ll help for people to identify with you and creates community. Utilize “formal systems” through ice-breakers and shout-outs to not only recognize work accomplishments but personal ones also. In turn, develop rapport and systems to identify how to support staff when in need.
Tip #2: Create a Buddy System. Britt offers the strategy of not just looking for ways to “lighten the load”, but also promotes the idea of creating a buddy system. Your leadership strategy might be identifying and fostering “buddies” to help each other – that might be someone who carried a similar load in the past, or is carrying one now. What I most appreciate is that Andreatta didn’t suggest that the leader become the buddy with everyone carrying a heavy load. Not only is it impossible , but it doesn’t help build your team in spreading the collective support from one another.
Tip #3: Get Your Own Buddy. Too often, we can get pre-occupied in wanting to help others, we forget time to take care of ourselves. Remember, you can’t draw from an empty well. Invest time in establishing and maintaining relationships with colleagues. Leverage social media tools (Twitter, Voxer, etc.) if needed to connect with others who are in your same position in another district. Also, it’s helpful to find friends outside of your vocation to help provide alternate perspectives.
Regardless of the journey, being prepared is essential. To ensure you are successful, it’s important to consider the voyage and ready the travelers. As the African Proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”