Dealing with change as a leader can be difficult but it can also be a source of personal growth. As the saying goes; "If there is no challenge, there is no change."

As a leader, you know that change is inevitable and necessary for growth. But change can also trigger strong emotions in your team, such as fear, anger or resistance. You might not have expected such an intense response, and you might feel distressed when faced with these adverse feelings. 

That is why taking charge of change can be as much about managing yourself as others. It requires not only a clear vision and strategy, but also self-awareness and emotional intelligence. You need to be able to manage your own emotions, communicate effectively, and support your team through the transition.

Here are some tips to hopefully make you more confident when taking charge of change -

Avoid self-fulfilling prophecies

Have you ever come across the term 'self-fulfilling prophecy'? The term refers to situations when you have a false belief that affects your actions in a way that makes the false belief come true.

Consider this: if you hold a belief that your partner is rejecting you, you are likely to behave in a defensive and anxious manner. In turn, this behaviour itself can lead to your partner rejecting you. 

The same dynamics can easily apply in the workplace, where you may believe a group will reject you before they've had the chance. Holding this belief can make you feel angry and hostile towards them, eventually leading to the feared rejection. 

This sort of feedback loop is a trap that leaves some people preferring the validation of being right, even if it hurts. 

Think about how your fears of rejection influence your behaviour, and realise that change begins with seeing the reality. Shift your focus to identifying signs of what's working, rather than fixating on what's going wrong.

Craft positive emotional goals

Ever notice how people facing emotional challenges often express what they don't want to feel? You need to shift the focus. Constantly thinking about what you don't want won't get you anywhere. It is akin to trying to not think about pink elephants; now it's the only thing on your mind. 

Instead, consider what you DO want. 

For example, let's say you are afraid of being 'paranoid,' so you have a tendency to dwell on it. Try focusing on how you want to feel. Take a few minutes to envision how you'd like to be in the future regarding this issue—relaxed, indifferent, self-assured.

Another good example is when you are preparing for a difficult meeting where you may face some resistance. Normally, you might fret about people disagreeing with you, or reacting negatively. Now imagine yourself leaving the meeting, having communicated your points and represented your best self.

Professional athletes often use positive visualisation to boost their performance. So can leaders, expressing positivity and self-control in challenging situations.

Explore the roots of your fear

It may seem counterintuitive, but knowing how your fear of rejection started can be helpful. Perhaps you were taught that rejection is the worst thing ever, or have painful memories of past rejection.

Close your eyes, go back to those times as your present self, and imagine reassuring your younger self. It might sound unusual, but this exercise can change how you feel about those past experiences and help you move forward. Change is about the future not the past. Leaving behind unproductive thoughts can be liberating.

Changing your thoughts is just one part of the equation. Emotions often outpace thoughts, especially when it comes to survival. To truly change, start by feeling differently. Close your eyes, use your imagination, and rehearse strongly feeling and acting differently in situations where insecurity typically arises.

Question your assumptions

People who never question their assumptions make their life more challenging. Confidence involves being less rigid in your perceptions. If your opinion is always treated as gospel, maybe it's time to open your mind to the possibility of both good and bad outcomes. 

This is not about second guessing yourself. It is about understanding that during complex change, there is often more than one right path forward. Becoming comfortable with uncertainty is one of the keys to confidence and enjoying your work during periods of change.  


 If you have questions or need guidance, please reach out to our transformation enablement experts. We would be happy to help you embark on a transformative journey for your business.