The irony is not lost: Many professionals complain their cross-functional colleagues won’t change, yet these same professionals haven’t changed how they’re leading those colleagues.
Effectively leading cross-functional change initiatives requires far more than change-management support. It requires your leadership development. (Remember: When you blame others you inform your consciously aware colleagues that you’re the one with the growth opportunity.)
To overcome resistance to change demonstrated by cross-functional colleagues, here are 3 points of wisdom we’ve seen successful leaders demonstrate that are essential to remember.
1. People don’t resist change – they resist being changed. Remember: Humans have a difficult time resisting their own good ideas. Your agenda will remain your agenda if you’re the one who created it. Change doesn’t occur until the agenda is co-created by stakeholders in other parts of the business.
2. People want to do big things. Remember: If you’re like most, your ego is working overtime to protect you by demonizing “those” people. It wants you to believe “they” are driving to the office thinking “I can’t wait to make life difficult for [your name here].”
That, however, is rarely true. And if it is, why lower your ethics or standards and show the world that you’re not any better?
The reality is this: Each of your cross-functional colleagues have their own agenda, motivations, desires, and fears. They also want to be a part of something bigger than themselves – just like you. Honor this dynamic in them and they will trust you sooner.
3. People think they’re smarter than they really are – including you. Remember: Every human is bounded in their rationality. All your good ideas and the decisions you’re making are constrained or limited to how you see your world.
To solve the complex problem your cross-functional team is facing, you’ll need more than the data and experience you’ve gathered from your business- or function- or department-centric way of seeing your world. While you may have the final decision, getting to the best solution means truly including the wisdom of others.
Bonus: It’s frightening how often you hear professionals utter the words “how do we get them to…” when discussing cross-functional colleagues. Effectively leading cross-functional change initiatives is not about getting others to do something. Instead, leading those who you have no authority over requires facilitating and connecting the greatness in others.