Change Leadership Institute

Lead Change & Love People Newsletter - February 2024

Published 4 months ago • 3 min read

Quote Of The Month

"Did you eat?" - what a lot of Asian elders say as an expression of love

What You Need To Know About Leading Change

How do you lead the hard work of change in a human way?

It's hard to be a leader, but from personal experience, I'd argue that it's harder to be a change leader. There's added responsibility and pressure to catalyze change, create a process inclusive of as many people as possible, and continue change sustainably so it lasts beyond your tenure.

But friends, research from Harvard tells us taking on greater responsibilities and pressure can rewire our brains and force us to stop caring about others as much as we used to.


But here's where we change the narrative.

There's so much we can do, but I'll start with this:

One thing we can all work on is our propensity for Fundamental Attribution Error.

Here’s how this shows up as we're leading change.

When good things happen to us during the change process, we attribute this to our internal qualities - “I've hit this change milestone because I'm so skilled at leading change!”

When bad things happen to us during the change process, we attribute this to bad luck - “I didn’t hit that change milestone because the timing wasn't right.”

When good things happen to other people during the change process, we tend to think of it as their good luck - “They're adopting the change well because they're lucky to be on a good team.”

And when bad things happen to them during the change process, we tend to think of it as their fault - “They're not adopting the change well because they're so difficult.”

When leading change, it's important to be mindful of how Fundamental Attribution Error can sneak into your thinking.

When leading change, someone will inevitably do or say something that may not make sense to you, or downright make you mad.

How can we move away from assuming that it's a person's character flaw or personality and move towards thinking about the situation instead?

I’m not perfect at it, but here’s what I do:

  • I try to remember the person is human and something about the change might be triggering an emotion or memory I’m not aware of that’s affecting their buy-in.
  • I try to lead with respect by presuming good intentions.
  • I try to adopt resistance as a learning opportunity. There's truth within the resistance if you search for it. Use that truth to inform your change strategy rather than fighting against the truth or the person!

Want to try something else? Experiment with my suggestion below and have fun!


What You Can Do Now To Change The Way You Lead Change

Self-leadership is so important to leading change successfully. Why? Because leading change is an emotion-filled endeavor. It's exhausting. The process triggers the unexpected, especially when you encounter resistance, or perhaps even a crisis.

To lead the hard work of change in a human way, we need to develop compassion and reverse those neurological wirings that make us less caring when we undergo the pressures of leading change.

So, to grow your compassion muscles, try this extremely practical yet helpful exercise I've adapted from a leader at Harvard:

  1. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
  2. Get into a comfortable position, sitting, child's pose, or flat on your back.
  3. Control your breathing by inhaling at the count of 4...3...2...1.
  4. Then exhale at the same count of 4...3...2...1.
  5. Keeping the same count with your next inhale, think of someone in your life who is going through a hard time.
  6. With your next exhale, imagine blowing into them everything this person needs such as love, encouragement, positive vibes, comfort, peace, etc.
  7. Repeat.
  8. When you return to your regular breath, reflect on how you feel and remember this moment when you'll inevitably need it again as you lead change.

What I'm Learning This Month About Leading Change And Loving People

  1. Skills-based leadership theory states that leaders need technical, human, and conceptual skills to succeed. The human skillset (ability to get along with people as you do work with them) is the only one that's 100% needed for success at all levels of the organizational hierarchy while the technical and conceptual skills vary in percentages based on a person's position in an organization.
  2. Leading change while in a life transition is one of the most difficult combinations. Don't try it, but if you must (like I am), integrate little routines that bring stability to your life such as daily exercise, good morning and bedtime routines, and connecting with friends who give you energy.
  3. A book I'm re-reading on change leadership - Think Outside the Building, by Rosabeth Moss Kanter.


  • I've developed a Change Readiness Assessment and will share that with you in my March newsletter. It's free for you as a thank you for subscribing! Coming soon!
  • Order my book Leading Change While Loving People HERE.

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