Case Study: Understanding Resistance to Change and How to Overcome It


The VP of Engineering in a large apparel client-corporation was extremely task driven. Meetings she held were brief, to the point, and with tremendous emphasis on task management efficiency and effectiveness. The strong focus on speed often left managers reporting to her unheard. Decisions were often made based only on the VP's perspective. Equally importantly, this extreme task focus left her reporting managers unprepared to manage their teams.

When her AVP discussed needed changes with her, the VP said everything she was expected to say. She was more than happy to develop her team. Willing to work on coaching each team member according to their strengths, thinking, and unique skills. Totally on board with deeply understanding different perspectives, exploring, and respecting the logic of others during meeting, even if it didn't make sense to her in that moment. She was provided with training and traditional executive coaching but despite all of that, she kept true to her old style. Her words were the right words but her actions and behaviors remained the same.

Her external resistance was subtle and sophisticated. Her main focus was on letting the waves of interest in her department wash off. She would patiently attend the new initiative that was asked of her (training, coaching, or the yearly conversation with her AVP) but then go back to running her department the way she thought best.

Prior to learning about how to successfully support external res