Future Fit # 13: On becoming an adaptive leader: The greatest fear

TomorrowToday has promised to help you start the journey towards being future fit – to becoming an adaptive leader. Being merely a ‘good leader’ will not suffice when it comes to meeting the challenge of the future. You will need to be a great leader and a ‘great leader’ is someone who understanding and practices adaptive leadership. This is part of a ‘boot camp’ through which we help you begin the journey of becoming future fit; we help you in the process of becoming an adaptive leader. Each ‘session’ is designed around a thought-bullet (Head) and an action point (Hand) – something to think about and something to try out. We have promised to keep the ‘head’ part to under a minute and the practical part (hand)…well, that is up to you.

ladders into the skyFuture Fit # 13: The greatest fear in change

People do not resist change. If people think that they stand to benefit through the change they will be quick to embrace the change – after all, we are not stupid! What people fear about change is what they perceive (real or imagined) they will loose through the change. People fear loss, not change itself. It has been said that to mobilize people to change, the fear of not changing has to outweigh the fear of the change. Resistance to change comes about when people hold onto to what they have for fear of losing it.  Change always requires tough choices, trade-offs and there is often a sense of uncertainty in moving forward. Adaptive leaders understand these intersections and learn how to ensure there is cohesive movement in what is a tricky area. In any adaptive process there will always be things that need to be discarded, this is unavoidable. Leaders need to be able to authentically acknowledge this as well as position what is to be gained through the change. This needs to go beyond mere rhetoric and motivational talk and as a leader you will need to ‘live the change’ that you desire from your people or organisation. Your own comfort and adaptation will go a long way in determining to what extend your people will be able to embrace the required change. Too many leaders demand change of others, whilst isolating themselves from the impact of that change.

What is the ‘loss’ that you think your people fear in your change process? Think about it and then test what you come up with by chatting one-on-one with some of the individuals concerned. You might need to be willing to dig beyond the surface answers you hear if you are to get to the real underlying concerns and fears. How does what you hear conform to what you thought would be the fears of your people? How do you build an understanding around the consequences of not changing and ensure that the fear of not changing becomes greater than the fear inherent in the change. A savvy understanding this simple reality surrounding change (the fear of loss) will make you a better adaptive leader.

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