Why leaders don’t lead change – Part 2

by Oct 1, 2018

  • The next four reasons why leaders don’t lead change: team conflict, inadvertant ignorance, control freakery, and fear of failure. 
  • All very valid reasons to hold back – your change leadership coach can help! 


There’s more holding you back?

And you’ve returned!

In part 1 of this series I called out the first four of eight very valid reasons why leaders don’t always step up to lead change and transformation. The first four reasons were a lack of safety, a need to be liked, a desire to avoid conflict, and recognition of areas you’re not good at.

Let’s now look at the final four reasons which often inhibit leaders from leading change.

Team conflict.

It’s difficult to step up and lead if you are concerned that you are going to be sabotaged by one of your executive team members. A mistrust or dislike of the team members is derived from two main areas – recognising a lack of capability in the executive team (he or she is not up to the job, they’ll mess this up) OR your peers have a different motivation, and you are not all on the same page.

Inadvertent ignorance.

Some leader are genuinely puzzled they are expected to be upfront of the change and think their responsibility is purely decision maker and funding provider. The absence of change leadership can be attributed to a fundamental lack of understanding about change management, the benefits and the role a leader plays.

A touch of the control freak.

Change and transformation can be very, very messy. By nature, it is complex work. High on uncertainty, and usually pretty rich in ambiguity. And not everyone relishes that space.

  • It’s stuff we can’t quantify
  • It’s stuff we can’t categorise
  • It’s stuff we can’t organise

And as identified in the first post, many leaders come from occupational backgrounds that do everything possible to tidy up the messy. Quantify. Categorise. Organise. Wrap up in a ribbon and put on a shelf.

Fear of Failure

Leaders are humans. And with humanity comes fears. From a leadership fear perspective, there are often two drivers of fear.

Imposter syndrome, where you are just waiting for people to work out who you really are, and that you really are not up for the job

Or a variant of the Marianne Williamson quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves – who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? …

And in both cases imposter or greatness, there is a real risk that in playing big, you screw things up. And that screw up will be expensive. And career limiting.  The higher you rise, the further you fall.

So there you go, quite understandable really. Four very valid reasons why leaders don’t always step up to lead change: team conflict, lack of change management knowledge, control freakery, and fear of failure.

How do you move on from these eight reasons? You call in your experienced change lead or Change Leadership Coach. I promise you we’ve seen it before several times and we can help you with it.

We’ve got your back.


A change management Jiminy Cricket, sitting on your shoulder coaching you on the way forward. I know you’re capable of greatness. So drop me a line.


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