Develop Change Intelligence to Transform from HR Professional to Business Leader

November 6, 2014 | Barbara A. Trautlein, Ph.D., Principal, Change Catalysts, LLC | HCI
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As an HR professional, do you struggle to influence leaders from other functional groups?  Especially during times of major change, do you wrestle with how to connect "people needs" with "business objectives"?  Are you challenged to communicate in a way that your messages "get through"? 

If you are frustrated that you are not getting traction "outside" with colleagues in finance or IT or operations, try turning the lens "inside" and examine your own mindsets and behaviors. 

Often, what looks like resistance in others is an opportunity to enhance our Change Intelligence as leaders.

To lead change, here are five strategies that are completely within your control to execute NOW:

Change Your Story - Reframe resistance.  Resistance in organizations is like the immune system in the body.  For protection against harmful invaders from the outside.  Just like pain in the body is a symptom something is wrong, so resistance is a sign to be paid attention to.  Not eradicated, but surfaced, honored, and explored. 

Change Your Stance - Picture a triangle.  So often, we view ourselves on one angle, others at another angle, and "the problem" on the third angle.  In our minds, it feels like it's us against both the other people as well as the problem.  That's exhausting.  Instead, re-envision yourself and the other people working together to solve the problem.  Move from being and feeling and acting against others, or doing something to others, or even in spite of others, to with and even for them.  If you can make this simple mindset shift, how you related to others will become immediately almost palpable to them. 

Change Your Seat - What you see depends on where you sit.  Change looks very different at different levels of the organizational hierarchy.  Those at the top are typically isolated.  Those at the bottom are most resistant.  Those in the middle are squeezed.  Sit in others' seats and appreciate their pressures.  Adapt your approach to the very different needs and concerns of these very different audiences. 

Change Your Style - We all know the Golden Rule:  Do onto others as you want to be done onto.  To lead change effectively, follow the Platinum Rule:  Do onto others as THEY want to be done onto.  Tell stories they can relate to.  Share statistics relevant to them.  Demonstrate what's in it for all of us to work together in new ways. 

Change Your Strategy - So often, what looks like resistance is really that people don't get it, want it, or are able to do it.  Engage the brain by explaining the "why" and "what" of the change - help the "head" understand your vision, mission, and goals - paint a clear picture of the target, the end game.  Inspire the "heart" to care about the change objectives - engage with others, actively listen, deal with fears and insecurities, build trust.  Help the "hands" to be able to act consistently with the change - provide tactics, training, tools and eliminate barriers standing in people's way. 

The good news: none of these prescriptions are about changing fundamentally who we are.  Instead, they are all about shifts in mindsets and behaviors.  Ultimately, while we can influence others, the only thing we can truly control is ourselves.  It's about the flexibility to adapt our leadership approach to powerfully and positively get us all where we need to go to meet the challenges of today's demanding times.  It's amazing how when we change, others change.  


Want to learn more?  Visit to download two free chapters of the best-selling book Change Intelligence:  Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks, watch video and listen to audio about CQ, and read compelling real-life case studies of leaders like yourself putting CQ into action.