“You want us to do what?”
Most teams are not accustomed to doing what others consider the impossible. So how do we change that? How do we turn a team of followers into disruptive leaders?
In my world as a visionary facilitator, I coach many in this process. Rest assured it is a process that everyone can learn. It is not a special gene in our DNA or a rare talent people are born with. No, it is a process to be learned and developed.
1. Acknowledge the Fear of Change.
Every day I notice how much most people hate change. Sure they love to get a new phone with the latest features but most of the world wants to play it safe and change slowly. I see it in myself. Actually, I see it in many disruptive leaders. Most are pretty conservative except in a small portion of their lives. Many, like Thomas Edison, had a standard daily routine provided a stability and allowed them to reserve their creativity for disruptive projects.
Many fear change because they worry about what could happen. They are apprehensive about the unknown outcomes of disruption so they stick within the bounds of what they know. Why risk what they have for what they cannot guarantee?
This fear is real. Recognize it and then acknowledge it with them. In the process, just talking about this fear makes it more manageable.
2. Nudge them out of their Comfort Zone
Each one of us has our own specific phobia. Mine is heights. Just thinking about driving a mountain road or standing near a ledge brings my palms to a sweat. I instinctively feel as if I will drive off the road or fall off the ledge. To those without this phobia, the fear is unfounded. I’m not going to drive off the road if I stay focused. I won’t fall off the ledge if I watch my step. But for me, the irrational fear of “what if?” often prevents me from going where I could enjoy a phenomenal view.
The challenge is to nudge them out of their comfort zone. Notice I didn’t say “shove them.” Just like dealing with my fear of heights, it takes inching my way while repeating, “I’m safe, it’s going to be ok.”
Be patient and compassionate. Change, especially radical and disruptive change is not easy.
3. Be their Safety Net
I’ve thought a lot about my fear of heights and know it stems from my confidence in those situations. Because I grew up in the flat land of South Dakota, I wasn’t used to driving on mountain roads. Moving to Florida 12 years ago hasn’t done anything to foster that growth. So when I do travel to the mountains and face my fear, I openly talk about the reason why I fear the heights. That is when my wife and I can laugh about it for how absurd our reasons are (she doesn’t like driving those roads either.)
In the same way, listening to your team and recognizing why they are apprehensive about change is a critical step. Many fear change because they cannot afford to risk what they have. They don’t have much and would be foolish to gamble it on an unsure thing. But as the leader, you need to assure them of the security they have.
Of course, it isn’t fair to demand that they take risks without providing a safety net for them. Be that safety net. Many leaders want innovation yet they have a zero tolerance for failure. You cannot have it both ways.
4. Introduce them to the Adrenaline Rush of Disruption.
I could avoid heights real easy if not for my love of mountain photography. Seeing the grand vistas awakens my entire being. Knowing that helps me to push through my fears, driving the mountain roads and climb to the top of a ridge. It isn’t enough to see someone else’s photos. I need to see it for myself.
In the same way, help your team overcome their fears of change by introducing them to the adrenaline rush of disruption. Help them see what if feels like to break through, being the first in the marketplace, solving problems that others didn’t know they had or simply receiving the accolades for progress.
Without experiencing the fun of finishing first, many never would never try. Introduce them to the fun.
5. Make Disruption a Habit
Since there are no mountains in Florida, the next best thing I can do is drive the Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay. When I first moved down, I was a “Nervous Nelly” when driving over it. But with repetition and frequency, I’ve gotten so it really doesn’t bother me.
That is the same for disruption. Once someone learns that there is something great about expanding their comfort zone and they do it regularly, they want to do it more. They don’t worry about the outcome because the rewards are now predictable. Their fears have disappeared.
Disruption can become an enjoyable habit for our team if we follow the process.
Like the blog to continue learning how to become a disruptive leader in the futuristic world of rapid and radical change.
Become the Disruptive Leader and Break Through
I am Dr. Loren Murfield and I work with aspiring and emerging leaders to breakthrough and become disruptive leaders, doing the impossible by changing the paradigm of their thinking and telling powerful stories. If that is your desire, contact me today. I have a program for every budget.
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