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And the Academy Award for High Drama goes to...

28 June 2011

Of late, I’ve had the privilege to observe a leadership team as they tackle significant change. Change not only occurring in their industry, but to their business and within the leadership team dynamic itself.

It’s a fantastic opportunity for this team and the business to bust myths and traditional practices, innovate, take risks and emerge streets ahead as the market leader. The Managing Director and General Manager should be applauded for the level of research, risk-assessment and resources they have committed to the new initiatives.

The leadership team of eight is a fifty-fifty mix of men and women and I’m sorry to say this, but the women are digging in their Jimmy Choos and have been found guilty using their powers for evil, instead of good.

I am not a change management guru by any stretch of the imagination, but here are three behaviours I have observed the women of this leadership team adopt in their attempt to thwart change:

1. Grand Apathy
On announcing the new initiatives, the women of the leadership team immediately demonstrated their [what seemed at first...] disengagement, resistance and grand apathy. Comments like “Well, I don’t like but I will do it anyway ...” and “How am I going to find the time to make this happen?” were heard and on-going resistance by failing to deliver on agreed action items was observed. Their ‘grand apathy’ was actually a need for greater engagement, collaboration and information as to why the changes need to occur. Perhaps they didn’t trust the MD or GM or didn’t respect the process of research, risk-assessment and resourcing that had taken place behind closed doors.
We were able to move somewhat forward when we worked with the women to help form questions based on what their ‘grand apathy’ and their immediate concerns and reactions were truly about. 
Once done, two Negative Nancys emerged ...

2. Negative Nancy
As we moved further down the track, two Negative Nancys emerged from behind their ‘grand apathy’. While they remained professional, they were increasing their assertiveness [verging on aggressive] and disruptive behaviour by calling additional meetings, meetings and more meetings all based on the premise of “It is not going to work... but you are not prepared to listened to me, are you?”
Emotions surfaced, heated and healthy discussions were had and it started to ripple throughout the business.
It was a case of ‘grand apathy’ plus emotion equals Negative Nancy.
Our two Negative Nancys needed more information on the business case for change and more visibility around consultation and execution.
Once done, then there was one ...

3. Academy Award for High Drama
I guess when all face fails, turn to high drama. Our last femme fatale gave three Academy Award winning performances in her desperate attempt to halt proceedings. There were tears ... tantrums ... threats of resignation ... she spread rumours ... met women in the loos to gossip.
By this stage, I was intrigued by how easy it was for one of the senior leaders of a multi-million dollar business slip from professionalism into drama queen.  It was easy as add change and mix.

And that brings us to today. She’s doing ok, managing well ... inundated with information and engagement.

My good friend, Greg Nathan of the Franchise Relationships Institute tells me that back in the late 60's psychologist Stephen Karpman observed three stereotypes people fall into when dealing with frustration or disappointment. He called this the Drama Triangle of Victim, Rescuer and Persecutor. Wish I knew that earlier!

Julia Camm
Call: +61 438 066 069