>I met with two clients this past week both on the fast track to promotion and opportunity. They have used their talents and skills to navigate these waters of a shifting economy to create more opportunity and actually get ahead. Yeah! I love a great success story and the motivation I feel when I hear such positive news.

Both are looking at positions that involve growing their divisions, reorganizing systems and in a nut shell making some serious change. They have the experience, talent and skills to ensure their ideas will lead to great solutions, however the real measure of success will come in their ability to implement effectively.

Even as I write that it makes me laugh, as it sounds as if effective implementation is something they can control. It is something they can heavily influence and manage, but not something they can control. That lesson – understanding and embracing it – is the difference between a leader who can effectively lead a team through change and one who cannot.

All the brilliant solutions, all the amazing new systems and processes, won’t matter a bit if the team that needs to implement is not fully engaged, on board, and ready to make things happen.

That is why – the first step any leader takes when navigating the team through change is to focus on the power of the word “why”!  To stop and think through every step of the process, every new idea, and answer a few simple questions:
1. Why does this change need to be made?
2. Why would my team want to do this?
3. Why is it beneficial to them as individuals to do this?
4. Why do I need their help and support to make this happen?

Effective change leadership focuses first on the answers to these questions. New strategies, techniques and company direction need to then be communicated and delivered in a manner that first (and continuously)  answer these questions.

I fundamentally believe that people want to do a good job, and  they want to help their teammates and their company grow. However, we as human beings are hard wired to resist change, and more so change that is “pushed” upon us. Change leads us into the unknown, and there is fear and uncertainty there, making resistance a natural reaction.

As leaders, when we first answer the question why for our employees, we create understanding in our employees and understanding is soothing and calming. Employees relax their natural resistance, and as leaders we are then free to implement the next steps of change.

I have long believed that first answering the question why is the most valuable tool you have for implementing change. Are you required to do this for you team – No! Do you owe them an explanation – No! But, stopping long enough to relax their natural resistance will make your job as a leader so much easier and so much more effective.