Part 7: Consequences for Leadership – Tips

4. When leading change, use arguments, facts and examples that engage the emotions.

You can talk for a long time about our ever-changing world and the impact on your organization, but if your information is not interesting to the crocodile or the monkey, it will have no effect.

So, use facts that show that survival, territory, status and position are in danger. This will trigger the crocodile and the monkey and will create a sense of urgency.

At the same time, to avoid a destructive level of fight, flight, freeze, or flock, you must convince people on an emotional/monkey level that you are the leader that can guide and protect them. And, that there is a social fabric in place (i.e. a team that is connected and that offers support) that will provide them with the safety they need. The advice presented below will ensure you can achieve this.

5. Make an emotional stakeholder/force field analysis

In this, analyze not only the rational position people may adopt but also possible reactions on the emotional level. Where (what people, teams, departments) are the anticipated hotspots? Where can you expect change to be blocked by loss aversion? Is the fear of loss justified? What can you do to inform people and solve problems?

Before communicating the change, create an action plan about who is going to tackle possible destructive emotions, as well as when and how.

6. Give people the chance to save face.

When a discussion becomes too rational it often leads to someone feeling they are losing face which is a variant of losing position. If I present a strong rational argument at a certain point you will have to admit that I am right. This can look as though I’ve won and have convinced the other person on a rational level.

But what happened to the monkey and the crocodile?

They often feel offended, as if there position has been taken away. They are angry (although this feeling is often not shown as it is not acceptable) and will probably become resistant.

So, go easy on argumentation. All arguments will trigger an opposing argument leading to competitive leadership and ultimately to the monkey displaying false docility.

Take people seriously, ask them to state their arguments and say first where you agree (and not always where you disagree). Never say “you are wrong” but “I see your point of view but I have another one”. Instead of defending positions, try to understand the other person’s perspective and see where integration and win-win is possible.