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It is everywhere. . .

. . . Political leaders promoting changing policies.

. . . Organizational leadership touting new products or strategies.

. . . Team leaders outlining a process improvement.

Leaders everywhere think their job is to create change across their team, organization or industry.

And they are all wrong.

You can create broad change across people and distance, but you can`t do it by changing the organization.

You can only achieve by helping individuals make the choice to change.

In other words, organizations don`t change, people do.

In the political arena, you`ve heard the phrase, "all politics is local." For our purposes today let me modify it to say "All change is individual."

So, if you agree with my assertion, how can you use that insight to get to your desired end goal of new processes, projects, products and behaviors?

Here are five things you can do.

Start with yourself

How easily are you influenced to change by someone who isn`t changing themselves? An Android user isn`t likely to convince you to buy an iPhone and a couch potato won`t be a compelling advocate for reading more. If you want to influence others to change, you must begin with yourself your level of belief is critical to your success.

Open conversation

Too many changes are introduced with PowerPoint and polished, practiced presentations. Stop that approach! Introduce the situation and the need for change as you see it and have a conversation with people about their concerns, fears and ideas. Recognize their initial resistance not as threat but as energy to be used. Telling won`t work. Selling is limited in application. But a conversation that allows people to understand and express themselves moves people more quickly towards a change.

Pick the easy fruit first

If you have ever needed to pick the apples off of a tree, you probably started with the fruit closest to the ground. Picking all the apples doesn`t mean you have to start at the top of the tree! In order to influence the entire group, start with individuals most likely to be open to the change. Notice those who seem most receptive. Think about who has been open to similar changes in the past. Going to these people first will help you build your confidence, and build a cadre of people to help influence others.

Engage their help

Politicians do this well. Once they begin to build support they enlist the help of early supporters to help the influence others. They know they can`t do it alone and they understand the power of momentum. You don`t have to, and if you are trying to change a group of any size, you can`t, do it yourself. Engage those who are excited about the change. Support them with the same approaches you are using; encourage them to influence change on person at a time. The power of the extra help, plus the emotion of the momentum, will move you closer to your goal quicker.

Be patient

Have you been influenced to change quickly in every past situation? Have you ever seen an entire group of people all ready to change at the same moment? Change isn`t always easy. Just because you have some early adopters on board today doesn`t mean everyone else will jump on the bandwagon tomorrow. When you realize that all change is individual, you see that it will take some time. Remember that if your change is important, your patience will be rewarded.

There is lots more to creating change for individuals (and certainly how that ripples to organizational change) than can be shared in one brief article. But if you combine these five strategies with what you already know, and let all of your change leadership be guided by the premise that all change is individual, you will be on a path to more successful and more lasting change.

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