Peace de Resistance

Peace de Resistance

"I know not.""I cannot.""I will not.""Now just go away."

It's with attitudes like these that people stop change dead in its tracks. That's why you need effective strategies for overcoming individual or collective resistance in your management skills toolkit.

Author Rick Maureer reckons there is one reason most good ideas fail to ever see the light of day: resistance. When business groups rail against your latest supply chain or CRM initiative, when your presentation to the board is met with glassy stares or when your vision for a new product or service arouses sarcastic put-downs or sabotage attempts, these are all symptoms of resistance.

In the ongoing war between the CIO as change leader and those most intent on preserving the status quo, what the enemy of change is saying, either directly or indirectly, is: "I've heard your idea and I don't get it, I don't like it or I don't like you." Maurer says your job is to make them get it, like it and like you, whatever that takes.

More than ever today CIOs need to position themselves to influence the business requirements, engage with key decision makers on the executive team and set expectations for IT (see "Team Work", page 56). As CIOs struggle to set their leadership agenda and build trust from fellow executives at a time of intense corporate scepticism about IT, experts say understanding where resistance comes from and the potential cures is just one weapon in a leadership armoury increasingly vital to a CIO's hopes of success.

Top IT leaders have one of the toughest jobs in an organisation because they must build trust and credibility with every top leader in the company, notes Faith Ralston, author of Emotions@Work: Get Great Results by Encouraging Accountability and Resolving Conflicts.

Failure rates skyrocket when department heads undermine IT efforts, employees resent technology changes and hidden agendas and ego needs sabotage a project's success. To succeed, IT leaders must become experts at dealing with the unspoken "elephants in the room". "Few IT leaders have even been trained in what it takes to be successful," Ralston says. "Facing down elephants is not part of the curriculum. Most wake up thinking: 'I've never learned how to deal with this in school!'"

Ralston notes most IT projects stall because the customers' real concerns are not addressed. Silently, the customers think: "I don't like IT telling us what to do. It's faster and easier to do it ourselves; IT doesn't have a clue what we need." That is resistance in action.

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