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  • Writer's pictureAdam Behar

Answer the Call

Resisting change is normal. In fact, it's what heroes do -- initially, before they become heroes.

Watch Silicon Valley’s reluctant hero, Richard Hendricks, refuse his call to adventure, opting instead for a visit to the bathroom.

Stories are about change, and sometimes our refusal to change. They help us understand how and why organizations, people, and brands behave the way they do.

Not everyone wants to be a hero. Reluctant heroes are everywhere. They are your coworkers and colleagues, husbands and wives.

Even Mean Joe Greene refuses the call, for a brief moment. Then he gets with the show!

But here’s the rub -- refusing the challenge brings an abrupt close to your story.

Eventually we stand up. Husbands take out the trash. (A miracle!) Your co-workers get with the show, and so do you. 

Leaders can apply strategic storytelling to move and motivate their troops:

Supervisors and Managers

The hero of your organization’s internal story is not you. It’s your team members, co-workers, partners, and vendors. Give them the ball and let them run with it.

  • Give her the big account.

  • Let him lead the next meeting.

  • Challenge them to develop a new skill.

And, if initially, they refuse the call, it’s okay.

Good leaders get this.

They put on their mentor hat and help the team embrace new challenges and acclimate to the new world that opens up when they leave their comfort zones and set out on a journey.

Everyone reacts to change – even positive change – differently. Effective managers help each member of their team cross this psychological threshold.

If not, the Employee Journey will never commence. And they – and their skills – will not evolve, certainly not at the pace you expect.

Benefits of Answering the Call

Every time you answer the call at work, it is a plot point in the unfolding story that is your career.

When you answer the call, you’ll earn the respect of your manager and co-workers, and it will be reflected in performance evaluations, bonuses and promotions.

But those are external rewards.

The internal reward, I would argue, is the bigger payoff, especially for younger staff. It’s your journey from initial self-doubt to blossoming self-confidence.

“Ok, I’ve been tested and I survived. Now I’m ready for the next challenge.”

Organizational Change

Change initiatives will initially be resisted, especially top-down mandates. Some employees will refuse the call.

It may help to regard change management as a journey. Story, again, provides a strategic framework:  

  • What cultural or institutional resistance will the company encounter?

  • What new skills and wisdom will employees need to navigate the change?

  • What internal nemesis could foil your plan?

  • How will the organization use mentors and allies to help staff adapt to and assimilate the change?

People deal with fear and anxiety in different ways: Some confront it, while others avoid it.

Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

Heroes don’t let fear stop them from answering the call. That's what stories tell us.

For it is only by testing ourselves that we evolve, and through challenging ourselves that we discover who we are and what we’re capable of.


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