The other night, reflecting on an exhausting day at work and an exasperating evening with my (otherwise darling) kids, it struck me – the challenges I face in my work helping organizations lead change are actually remarkably similar to the challenges I face at home as the mother of two teens.
Here are a mother’s musings on the top 10 unlikely similarities between leading change and parenting teens:
- As George Bernard Shaw said so aptly, “the biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” From trying to engage employees in business transformation to encouraging a teenage boy to pick up his socks, communication is rarely as easy as it appears to be.
- You can’t keep pushing the same button and expect a different result. At some point, you’ve got to shift strategies and try something completely different.
- Humans are social beings, and there is nothing more powerful than peer influence – that goes for the workplace as much as the school yard. Leading through authority will get you so far, but enlisting a positive peer influence may be the missing piece to going the distance in achieving the change you desire.
- You can have it fast, or you can have it with engagement – pick one of the two.
- The smallest unit of change is conversation. Do what you can to have as much dialogue as possible.
- You can’t really change someone’s mind. The best you can hope for is to change the environment so they change their own (Note to self: this will take way more time and effort than you’d like).
- Expect resistance and normalize the experience. Your goal is to “dance with resistance” – find out what’s underneath it, and discuss it so that you can work with that energy to move forward.
- Change needs breathing room. At some point, when it’s too much, people get discouraged, disengaged and disconnected.
- Communicating nothing is communicating something.
- Change is hard. Refer to #1.
As Kurt Lewin reminds us: “If you want to truly understand something, try changing it”. This opportunity of working through change both at work and at home doesn’t make it any easier, but it does make it worthwhile.