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March 14, 2012

Address Levels Of Concern: The 3rd Leadership Key To Balance Authority & Collaboration

by Dr Rob Pennington

By Stephen Haslam and Robert Pennington, Ph.D., Resource International

This is the third in an eight part series on Balancing Authority and Collaboration

The 3rd Key: Address Levels Of Concern
The first two keys in this series focused on how a leader’s position (authority) can actually get in the way of gaining trust and positive influence with others (collaboration), and that no matter how experienced or effective you are as a leader, you should expect some resistance to your authority.

Don’t assume that just by telling someone what needs to be done that they will be motivated to do it well. According to John Kotter, professor at Harvard Business School and author of 15 books on leadership, “People change their behavior when they are (internally) motivated to do so, and that happens when you speak to their feelings. You don’t have to spend a million dollars and six months to prepare for a change effort. You do have to make sure that you touch people emotionally.” (Kotter)

The Concerns Based Adoption Model (CBAM)* hypothesizes a predictable hierarchy of concerns that individuals experience when adopting any new innovation: Concerns for Self, Task, and Impact. Most companies only give attention to employees’ Concern for Task, whatever the employee needs to know to do the work. Kotter also wrote, “Employees need to understand that the changes are not oddball ideas being pushed by the bosses. They need to see short-term wins that demonstrate the validity of the change vision (concerns about impact). If the win is not ambiguous, is visible (concerns about task), and is of value to people (concerns about self), then people will say, “yes, I get it” and be more likely to help make change happen.” (Kotter)

The ultimate objective of using these techniques is to establish a work environment in which everyone feels safe to disagree so that communication is more open and work is more productive.

The 8 Keys To Balance Leadership Authority & Collaboration

  1. Position Power & Personal Power
  2. Expect resistance to authority
  3. Address levels of concern
  4. Don’t ask permission
  5. Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”
  6. Engage leaders at all levels
  7. Demonstrate respect to build trust and commitment
  8. Get tools in your tool belt

* Resources

Leadership Development: How to Get the Results You Need by Haslam and Pennington.

Reducing Resistance to Change and Conflict: A Key to Successful Leadership by Haslam and Pennington.

Kotter, John P. (2003).  The Power of Feelings, An Interview with John P. Kotter, Leader to Leader, No. 27, Winter 2003.

Bridges, W., & Mitchell, S. (2000).  Leading Transition: A New Model for Change.  Leader to Leader, No. 16, Spring 2000.

Hall, G. E., Wallace, R. C., & Dossett, W. A. (1973).  A developmental conceptualization of the adoption process within educational institutions (Rep. No. 3006). Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin, The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 095 126).

Rob Pennington and Stephen Haslam work with leaders and managers.  Find out more at Resource International,

Read more from Rob's Blog Posts

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