Recently, in a discussion with friends, we were discussing authority, especially our reactions to it. Some of us identified as rule keepers, while others were much more likely to have strong negative reactions to authority. But then we found ourselves talking about how we react differently to different types of authority. Some of the ones who tended to respond negatively to being told what to do were strict rule keepers when driving on the road. Others shared how it made a difference if a person representing authority was present (i.e. they became strict road rule followers when a police car was in sight). Still others talked of how a uniform impacted them.
When we seek organisational change, we have a similar large spectrum of people involved. Some staff members are rule keepers, some are not, some change depending on the situation and who’s around. This is not unique to the group of friends I was talking with, it’s normal human behaviour.
Change is often ‘breaking the rules’ – formal or informal rules. Being aware of how the people involved and impacted by the change respond to authority can help the change maker achieve her goal.
So how does the group you are working with respond to authority?