Look brighter when we come

Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark

Our coming and look brighter when we come.”

-Lord Byron, “Don Juan”

If I were to step into a room where you were briefing a new change, I could tell in an instant whether you were driving change or driving people to change.

Remember, driving change means choosing a change for yourself and clearing the obstacles for others to internally choose the change too.  Driving people to change means you are using some coercion (e.g., orders, fear of negative consequences, removal of positive consequences) to externally compel someone to change.

I could tell in an instant because I’d be able to see the difference on the faces of your audience.   If you’re driving people to change, here’s what I’d see:

As I pan the room, no eyes meet mine;’ the audience is staring at the floor or at their shoes. They slump their shoulders, tap their pens and mutter to themselves, wholly disconnected from your message.  If anyone in the room is attentive, I can reasonably guess that he’ll be the one soon asking you the terrible, leading question of, “When will you have enough data to decide this change is a failure?”

Contrast that audience to the one I’d find if you were driving change:

As I pan the room, no eyes meet mine because they are all focused on you as you lay out the next stage of the change.  Many people are leaned into the conference table, their elbows resting on the tabletop, their heads nodding as you tick off the steps toward implementation.  A few people are feverishly writing notes.  Questions and comments come rapidly, with the guy in the corner piling on with, “I’ve seen this work before and I know we can do this.  This is going to be fun.” [Yes, I actually heard a comment just like that in a meeting recently.]

You can see from these two scenarios the obvious difference driving change makes over driving people to change.  Why would the difference be so great?  Because people look fondly upon those who provide them happy opportunities.  Driving change is all about bringing people the opportunity to be, to do, to become something more.  Driving people to change is all about making people be someone else, someplace else doing something else.  It shouldn’t be surprising that people prefer more of themselves to forcibly less of themselves.

Drive change and eyes will look brighter when you come.

Note: If you’re new to Engine for Change, review the important details of driving change at these posts.

Insiders: If you’ve got a great example of how a driving change meeting looks, add your observations in the comments.

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