The Surrender Trinity

by | Dec 23, 2018

  • The opposite of resistence is to surrender.
  • In considering how “surrendering” might fit in a workplace context, it becomes clear there are three temporal elements that the leader needs to address.
  • 1) The past – this is the space that people assess trustworthiness of the leader
  • 2) The present – this is where the leader demonstrates mindfulness of themselves and others during change
  • 3) The future – this is the space where faith is created by the leader.
  • All three form a surrender trinity.

Many of you know I have been working on how the concept of “Surrender” fits into workplace change.

My interest in the idea arose when I experienced “stuckness” or perhaps “resistance” when facing personal change on account of a physical injury.

The experience led me to wonder if we were missing a stage in Conner’s change commitment curve (contact – awareness – understanding –  positive perception – experimentation – adoption – institutionalisation – internalisation).







It is relatively easy to take people through stages of contact, awareness and understanding, but that doesn’t always lead to positive perception and experimentation.

Could “surrender” be the stage in between? Or as Caroline Kealey of Ingenium Communications describes it “the hinge” that moves people from head (contact / awareness / understanding) to heart (positive perception) and hands (experimentation).

And if it was, what does that mean to our leaders of organisations. Can they actually do anyting about it to help people through the curve? I think so. It requires a commitment to the past, present and future. Surrender in a change sense is three part concept.

Part 1 is about trust.

Trust is born of the past behaviours of the leader. Their character, the past behaviours, their current actions. Can the change leader be trusted?  Do they speak with authenticity, transparency and honesty? Do their actions align with their words. Inextricably linked with the future state of faith, only when you have faith AND trust do you actually surrender. Every decision a leader takes today, every moment missed to communicate why that decision was made, diminishes the opportunity for employees to look back on this phase and determine trustworthiness of the business leader.

Part 2: is mindfulness.

Much more focused on the here and now, people need to be mindful of the experience of change – the stress, the excitement, the fear, the anxiety that leads to them to get bound up in a psychic prison of “what if” –  amplifying concerns and thinking through the implications to the point where no action occurs (trying the change, practicing the new steps, behaving in new ways, exploring the new system).

Moments of meditation, breathing, relaxing muscles that have tensed during the day assist the employee and leader to experience the sensory aspect of change. Accessing real time data as forms of organisational feedback give the leader insight into what is happening in the here and now and leading in a mindful way.

Whereas a lot of the commentary about corporate mindfulness programs is about employee health and well-being, what if there is an additional bonus – organisations that encourage mindfulness, meditation, yoga and reflection in the workplace are just better at continuous change?


Part 3: is about faith.

Unless the employees have faith in the future state, it is unlikely they will surrender to “buy-in” And this becomes the role of the change leader. Creating and communicating a vision that is believable, that resonates, that the employees can believe in. They may not be able to see it right now, but they have faith it will happen. They are willing to “surrender” to change.

Are all three equal in weighting? Perhaps not. If you have low trust and faith, the need for mindfulness is higher (as the physical and psychological effects of the lack of trust and faith are higher). Strong mindfulness and strong faith in the future may offset a leader who is not trusted. Not ideal though. I’m not sure you get “ surrender” without all three. What do you think?  Would love to hear.

For more on “the hinge” from head to heart and hands, have a read of this excellent white paper from Caroline : Best Practices in Change Communication


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