Change Resiliency: Leading Yourself and Others Through Transition

By: Michael Grubich, Managing Partner, LAK Group


‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ has always been one of my favorite movies because of the energy and quick-whit humor throughout the show.  Sometimes, escaping from the everyday routine really does highlight opportunities to improve and change.  Early in the movie, Ferris makes the statement, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I believe this is exactly how we, as both individuals and leaders, should look at transition through change.

Leading gracefully through change can seem impossible at times.  You don’t know where the next twist or turn will take you.  And, even worse, your team, or others around you, might feel even more anxious, because they assume they know less about the future than you.  The important thing for agile leaders is to display confidence.  Don’t let change overwhelm you, and as a leader, do not allow your actions to overwhelm others.

Change happens in everyone’s life.  The problems associated with change are generally not because of the change itself, but, more likely, the transitions involved with change.  According to William Bridges, effectively managing change begins with where you concentrate efforts.  Agile leaders recognize individual needs and flex their style to meet those needs.

Creating a resilience to change can help organizations effectively manage through challenges.  Anchoring organizational “change resiliency” requires actively managing transitions.  This includes creating experiences which engage and enable employees, mitigating performance dips, reducing sidebar conversations, and strengthening change management as an individual and organizational competency.   The goal for every organization should be to empower agile leaders, change advocates, and culture influencers across the business.

When you are faced with change, embrace it, take the lead, and remember these simple do’s and don’ts;

Do Communicate.  Agile leaders provide context.  They communicate both the “what” and the “why”, but let their team embrace the “how”.  Leaders who provide context around the purpose of change, expected behaviors, and benefits to the organization, create stronger buy-in and alignment for change.

Don’t avoid making yourself available for questions.  Show genuine curiosity, seek to understand, and actively listen to people.  Set aside time for questions as you’re explaining the change, and ask, “Is there anything I can do to help you?”  Agile leaders must demonstrate compassion, which in turn helps people transition at their own pace.

Do Collaborate.  Agile leaders work across boundaries and encourage others to break out of their silo, to challenge the norms.  They include teams, colleagues, and peers in decisions early on, aligning purpose and building a commitment to change.

Don’t assume everyone is ready when you are.  When you’re navigating through change, be patient, take your time.  Where possible, make changes at a pace which the organization can handle.  Communicate early and often, giving people time to adjust.  You never want people to be surprised by impending change.

Do Commit.  Agile leaders make sure their behaviors support what is expected.  Change is difficult, but leaders who negotiate it successfully are resilient, persistent, and willing to step outside their comfort zone.

Don’t forget to recognize great work.  Agile leaders remember to thank team members when they make progress during transition.  Designate time to reflect on individual accomplishments and reward progress.

Change is constant, change is good, and change is going to happen whether you want it or not.  Organizations that build a resilience to change will be able to sustain success as markets and the workforce dynamics shift.  Be aware that change is not easy and you have to maintain a commitment to building capabilities of leaders.  Keep trying, keep learning, and as Dory said in ‘Finding Nemo’, “Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming.  Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  What do we do?  We swim, swim.”  Or in our case … we change, change, change.


LAK Group believes people are the competitive differentiator for organizations and communities. Our purpose is to transform careers, cultures & organizations from selection through succession.  We partner with companies to create and execute integrated talent strategies which improve business performance, advance the capabilities of leaders and transform the careers of employees.