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Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change by H. James Dallas

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Chapter 4Become a Communicator

All change is political because it inevitably redefines established boundaries. By boundaries, I mean the physical and mental spaces inside of which people experience the three things everyone wants: safety, significance, and control. Those boundaries could be practical or cultural. They could be a job description or hierarchy, the “tribe” of a particular workgroup or division, an office or seating arrangement, a title or a contractual agreement, a technology system, and on and on.

When you threaten boundaries, you face resistance—even revolt—unless and until you find a way to show people how their safety, significance, and control will be preserved in the new order. That is the true art of change politics: being able to communicate that you understand and will respect to the greatest degree possible the boundaries of the people for whom you're responsible. Get good at that and you'll find yourself more successful than not. Real success in politics, by the way, isn't just getting elected; it's using your platform to do something that makes a positive difference. For change agents, success isn't just getting the green light for your agenda, but actually bringing it to fruition and achieving the projected benefits for the organization.

Without effective communication, politics will bring an initiative to a screeching halt. I was once leading a project to install a chemical plant purchasing and maintenance system. The first installation in plant A ...

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