• Kevin Finke

Awareness: A Change Leader's Most Beneficial Tool

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

One of my favorite change leadership workshops to facilitate for my clients centers around an assessment called the Change Style Indicator. This simple tool helps leaders become more aware of the ways they and others prefer to experience change by placing them on a continuum of conservers, pragmatists and originators. It also helps them be more adept at adapting the ways they show up during change, and especially the manner in which they typically lead change.

In the middle of each workshop, we literally take the continuum, which normally lives on a page or slide, and bring it to life by having everyone line up in order of where they fall on the indicator scale. I love watching what happens as participants get a real-world visual and become aware of where everyone scored on the assessment and how they each compare. People’s reactions are priceless, and this simple activity pays dividends in driving more change awareness for leaders and their teams.

Awareness is the most beneficial tool in a change leader’s arsenal.

No one can successfully lead change if they aren’t aware of how they and the people around them show up during change. Awareness is the key to adaptability. And remember what Darwin had to say about that. The ones who are most adaptable during change are the ones that survive change—or as I like to say, they are the ones who thrive through change. After all, work is rarely a life or death experience. Although at times, especially times of big change, it might seem that way.

When leaders are aware of their own change preferences, it helps them adapt their individual responses to change. All awareness begins with self, and a tool like the Change Style Indicator is a wonderfully insightful way for leaders to understand their individual change styles. Understanding personal strengths, preferences and pitfalls helps leaders adapt their own reactions to change, especially when they find themselves resisting change and needing to work through the emotions and reasons keeping them from exploring and committing to new ways of doing things.

When leaders are aware of their peers’ preferences, it helps them adapt how they pitch change and collaborate with other leaders in their organization. According the Center for Creative Leadership, collaboration is one of the three main competencies for successful change leadership. Bringing people together to plan and execute change is critical, and in many instances, that requires leaders to pitch their peers and rally them around new ideas. When change leaders are aware of how their peers prefer to experience change or how they tend to react to new change challenges, they can adapt their messaging and influence more effectively.

When leaders are aware of their own team’s preferences, it helps them better support and encourage the people they are responsible for regularly leading through change. The most successful change leaders have an intimate understanding of their own people’s preferences and mindsets, and they use that insight to fine tune conversations and have more thoughtful dialogue that moves their people through denial and resistance into exploration and commitment. 

Are you interested in becoming more aware of how you and the people you lead prefer to experience change? Please reach out to me here, and let’s talk about how I can help you become a more adaptable and thriving change leader.

Kevin Finke is the owner and chief storyteller at Experience Willow, a design firm that won the 2019 Global Eventex Awards for Best Employee Engagement and Best Team Building Events for On the Move to Midtown, a change campaign that helped 2,600 NCR employees transition from 6 suburban offices to a new state-of-the-art tech campus in midtown Atlanta. He is also an Instructor and Program Facilitator for Emory University Continuing Education and regularly leads design and change workshops with his many partners and clients across the globe.


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