Three Kinds of Senior Executive Resistance



Understand the different kinds of resistance from senior executives to your collaboration project.

Senior Executive support can be essential in any change program. Future of work and collaboration projects critically need the participation and leadership of senior leaders in the organisation.  Intimidated by senior executive power and authority, we can easily confuse the source of their resistance to a change program.  In many cases, what we perceive as an instruction that our work is a bad idea, may be a request for assistance to advance the cause.

Three Kinds of Senior Executive Resistance

Not all resistance is the same.  Often we need to dig underneath the No to learn more. Here are three major sources of pushback

  • Lack of Relevance: Senior executives are busy. They know that their time must be carefully allocated to ensure their success. Fail to be relevant to their business goals and strategies and you will quickly fall off their attention. If your initiative is competing for time or attention with a major priority, you will come off second and make even provoke efforts to stop you.  Lack of relevance is a signal to revisit the business case and benefits for your change.  Make sure they are aligned to important strategic goals of the organisation and to benefits that matter to the executive in question.
  • Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt: For a busy executive any doubt about what you are seeking to do can be a reason to ask you to stop and do better.  Make sure you are clear on your change and your needs for their action and support. If your proposed change threatens a senior executives ability to exercise their role, their intelligence, their power or traditional ways of operating in the organisation, it is like to generate even more fear, uncertainty and doubt. For people used to trading on confidence, even a little FUD will trigger a response.  Sharing understanding and building capability in the executives is the best response to FUD. Enable an executive to lead in a new domain and they can quickly transform from opponent to advocate.
  • Committed Opposition: There is always a hard core of cynics and naysayers. Don’t waste your time seeking to change their views.  Work around them instead.  If you can demonstrate that your change is strategically important and the future way of working by engaging other leaders, these executives will leave or be made redundant in time.

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