Leading Through Change: Navigating the Challenges

By February 5, 2024LTEN Focus On Training


POWER SKILLS – By Lola Gershfeld, Psy.D.

The proper approach can ease a stressful subject

Leading teams and organizations through periods of change is a formidable challenge that managers and leaders must often confront.

Change management is a complex and sensitive topic, as it often brings about stress and uncertainty among employees. Studies have consistently shown that when change is proposed, stress levels rise within organizations, and employees’ responses are varied and complex.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the difficulties of change management, the importance of transparency and trust, and how to create a fertile environment for successful change.

The Challenges of Change

Change, be it in organizations or personal lives, is often met with resistance and anxiety. This resistance arises from a deep-rooted attachment to the status quo, a love for the familiar and a fear of the unknown. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the “love and hate of change.”

People are naturally inclined to defend the way things are, even when they desire improvement. This paradoxical relationship with change often results in the preservation of the status quo, even when it is detrimental.

One of the most poignant examples of this phenomenon is observed in individuals who remain in abusive relationships because it is what they know, adhering to the adage that “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” Similarly, within organizations, there will always be a contingent of individuals who staunchly defend the existing situation, making change management even more challenging.

Another significant challenge in change management is the transition phase, the journey from the current state to the desired future state. This transitional period can be prolonged or brief, but it always involves a space between the old and the new.

Recognizing and understanding this transition phase is crucial for facilitating successful change. It is a time when processes and procedures adapt to the evolving situation, and it allows for the honoring of the past, a crucial step for those leaving behind what they once valued.

Additionally, individuals often struggle to imagine a new future with confidence and trust. This lack of faith in change can lead to suspicions of hidden agendas, creating further resistance to change. Therefore, transparency is paramount in addressing these concerns and facilitating a smoother transition.

Strategies for Managing Change

To make change more manageable and reduce stress among employees, leaders can employ several strategies:

  • Transparency: The foundation of successful change management is transparency. Leaders must effectively communicate the “why” behind the change, helping employees understand the purpose and necessity of the transformation. If employees cannot buy into the vision and rationale for change, resistance is likely to persist.
  • Clear Rules and Consistency: Establishing clear rules and following them consistently helps create predictability during times of change. Employees need to know what to expect and how the change will unfold. Deviations from established rules can create confusion and stress, so any necessary course corrections should be communicated transparently.
  • Seizing Opportunities in Crisis: Every crisis offers an opportunity for change and growth. By creating a fertile environment characterized by strong relationships and emotional connections, organizations can emerge from crises stronger and more resilient. Emotional connections are essential, as they foster trust, collaboration and mutual support during challenging times.
  • Attachment Theory: Understanding attachment theory reveals that humans have an innate need to connect with one another. Emotional connection is the glue that binds relationships, fostering feelings of security and mutual support. When employees feel connected and supported, they are better equipped to deal with stress and navigate change effectively.
  • Recognizing the Impact on Others: Awareness that our actions and decisions impact others is a fundamental aspect of successful change management. This awareness enables better appreciation of one another’s perspectives and feelings during periods of stress and change.


Leading through change is undeniably challenging, but it is also an essential skill for effective leadership.

The love and hate relationship with change, the complexities of transition and the need for transparency and emotional connections are all critical aspects of successful change management. By recognizing these challenges and implementing the strategies outlined in this article, leaders can minimize stress and foster an environment conducive to positive transformation.

Change becomes an opportunity for growth and improvement when handled with care, empathy and foresight, ultimately leading to a more resilient and adaptable organization.

Lola Gershfeld, Psy.D., is CEO and organizational psychologist for EmC Leaders. Email her at lola@emcleaders.com or connect through https://www.linkedin.com/in/lolagershfeld/.


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (www.L-TEN.org) is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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