You Can’t Change People
Why is it that some individuals in authority think they are responsible for changing people? Is this a good or bad thing? Can you really change someone? We all hear stories of people who have bounced back from addictions, reunite with cast out family members and so on. In the scope of leadership and management, is it really our mission to “change” people? I guess it depends on the context. Sure if members are violating rules and disciplinary issues arise then of course actions have to be taken with the expectation of changing behavior. But what about the leader that just wants to change you to make you like them (or their perception of themselves anyway). Isn’t this the opposite of diversity? Why would I want to make everyone like me if I truly value the intellectual value of differing opinions and approaches? If I force everyone to my way, my road map, my philosophy don’t I risk the possibility of group think?
It is tough to change adults so what happens is people under these leadership conditions tend to pretend. They don’t really change but they put on masks to create the illusion of a reformed bumble. Soon anyone just being themselves without a mask becomes a target of resistance. This prescription leads to a toxic environment in which differences of opinion are no longer part of a healthy quest for what is best for the organization but instead are considered attacks on the leader.
Individuals accept things better when they experience or discover for themselves. We don’t really like being forced into something……well……BECAUSE I SAID SO! Whether your intent to change others is for the best or not, force is usually not a lasting way of effecting change. How you operate yourself is the most significant influential force. Guidance but not force is a key strategy. None of us get it right all the time and it’s hard to resist pulling rank and saying ….because I said so, with some folks. If you are just looking for compliance it may work well as long as you have the authority but you will be right back in the same situation soon and you won’t have changed anyone or anything. You will however probably tick off and shut down your most important resource, the people! Instead of wasting your time with a mission to change everyone why not just do what you do to the best of your ability, appreciate the unique characteristic of others and influence others with your example instead of your orders. Whatever you do don't think your the smartest person in the room.