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What’s Your Change Intelligence?

Equipping for Change that Sticks

We’ve all heard about IQ, and as a business owner, you are likely familiar with EQ or emotional intelligence.

But it wasn’t until recently that I heard about CQ or Change Intelligence. What is that, and how can it help you in your life at work?

As business owners, change is part of the daily landscape. But just because change is common doesn’t mean it’s comfortable.

Change can be hard, which makes Change Intelligence a crucial skill set for anyone in management or the C-suite.

I learned about Change Intelligence during my conversation with Barbara Trautlein for Episode 629 of Onward Nation. Barbara is principal and founder of Change Catalysts, and the author of Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks.

We talked about how, across industries, across levels, across jobs, what separates the average performance from superior performance is not IQ, or technical skills, background, or experience. It comes down to how we manage the inevitability of change.

One of the more startling statistics Barbara shared with me was that roughly 70% of organizational changes fail.

Holy bananas! If change is inevitable and the pace of change is only increasing, then learning how to lead through change is mission-critical to any business.

So how do you put yourself on the right side of that 70% statistic? Here are a few tips on not just managing but leading change:

Barbara told me, “To our brains, change = pain. So we have to overcome that.” When our brains are confronted by pain, they want to fix it or, even better, avoid it altogether. But in business, we can’t avoid change, so we’ve got to get beyond that pain response.

Okay, but how? How do you overcome that pain response when change is the order of the day?

Here’s the formula Barbara uses as she teaches Change Intelligence. It comes down to these three ingredients:

  • Engaging the heart
  • Enlightening the head
  • Equipping the hands

I love that!

Change leadership is all about helping people adapt to a new reality. For our brains, change literally equals pain, so when we are initially confronted with a change scenario, all our mental energy is going into pain management mode.

What does that look like to us as business owners?

Let’s play out a likely scenario. Say you’ve seen a need to change the way sales are processed in your business. You’ve come up with some ideas and have become the person with a plan. Then you spring it on your sales team – “Hey, everyone, next month we’re going to totally shift how we take a lead from prospect to a closed sale. I’m very excited, and I’m sure you will be too!”

And then what do you encounter? That’s right, resistance! Your team is just settling into the CRM you’ve been using for all of three months – now this!

Here’s how Barbara described it when I was speaking with her: “I think so often what looks like resistance in other people is that we as leaders aren’t giving them what they need to get it, to want it, or to be able to do it. And that’s the basis of change.” Barbara was spot on.

So don’t just throw stuff out there and hope your team gets on board. Engage the heart – let people know the challenge that is being faced that led you to consider this change. Enlighten the head – help them understand why a change is needed, and how the new tools, processes, etc. will accomplish that. Equip the hands – give them the tools and the time they need to understand the new process and get excited about it.

All of this will increase everyone’s CQ, and make the change that happens tomorrow that much easier to lead your business and team through.

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