Resistance to change – Executive Psychotherapy
Resistance to change. Executives with problems they cannot solve, but which others have solved, may be afflicted by resistance to change.
All over the world executives complain that resistance to change is a major problem they face when trying to improve their organisations. When we see resistance to change in others it seems obstructive and self-defeating, yet when resistance to change comes from us, it is reasonable, appropriately cautious, self-protective, and a rational response to irrational proposals for an unreasonable and unnecessary change.
Executives experience the same human reaction when faced with changes as the rest of the population. Resistance to change is a human universal. When the change is imposed from without, we resist. When the change is driven from with, we embrace it; are even inspired by the anticipated change.
What does that mean when a leader has a problem that takes him/her to executive psychotherapy? It means that resistance to change becomes a barrier to solving the problem.
If you ask any experienced psychotherapist which group of clients are the most resistant to change, to solving their problems, most, if not all, will say, highly intelligent, well-educated executives and professionals.
Why would executives who have so often seen the destructive effects of resistance to change be the people who have the highest resistance to change when it comes to their own problems?
Alas, the very intellectual talents that enable a person to become an executive or top professional are the same ones that disable them when it comes to solving their own problems in executive psychotherapy.
Highly intelligent, well-educated executives and professionals (unknowingly) trap themselves in their problem space by use of their reasoning skills. They can successfully argue that black is white, wet is dry, day is night: that reasoning power is (inadvertently) directed in a self-destructive way.
Resistance to change in the hands of such skilled reasoning, quickly becomes the most rational, logical and reasonable position ever taken. The proposed change discussed in executive psychotherapy is such an act of irrationality that it crosses the line of insanity, according to the afflicted executive.
The executive afflicted by a problem can and does muster his/her reasoning skills to justify staying exactly where they are. All proposed improvements, all proposed methods to address their problem, are completely inappropriate, irrational, ill-informed, misguided, incomplete, too late, too early, require too much effort, can’t possibly be effective because they require too little effort… the list is endless. The proposed method, rather than improving or solving their problem is likely to lead to a marked and immediate deterioration.
Such reasoning, in the hands of a problemed executive takes resistance to change to new levels. All very impressive if they were fighting some evil force. Alas, they are directed by the executive to keep the executive exactly where s/he is; to (unknowingly) perpetuate their problem. And resist anything suggested in psychotherapy.
How do you know if the real problem is resistance to change (as opposed to the presented problem – stress, depression, anxiety, etc)?
Here are just some of the many indicators.
If the person…
10. Attempts to diminish the therapist, or claim that the therapist does “the same thing.”