Peter Block, author of The
, noted that the apparent power of those at the top is much
less than absolute. What leaders can do from the top down depends on the will of
those below. Block recommended that leaders analyze their relationship with each
of their essential people by asking two questions:
- How much do I trust them?
Block then offered this grid to help leaders think about how to build support
for change initiatives:
For each relationship, leaders have to employ different strategies. As the Michigan
Department of Education Office of School Improvement helpfully
- Allies (high agreement / high trust). Affirm both
the relationship and your agreement about the school. Discuss shared doubts and
vulnerabilities and ask for advice and support.
relationship, and state your own position on the school issue. Check out your
perception of THEIR differing position. See if you can find a way to
the agreement on the school issue. Acknowledge that reasons for caution exist,
then try to be as clear as possible about what you’d want from your bedfellow in
terms of working together. Ask what she wants from you. See if you can reach
State your position on the school issue and ask where the fence-sitter
stands. Press gently for an answer if he delays. Ask the fence-sitter to let you
know what it would take for him to support your position and work with you.
your position on the school issue. Check out your understanding of their
position. Own up to your own contribution to the disagreement. Let the adversary
know your plans and end the meeting with no demand.
As I think about Block’s categories, several thoughts come to mind related to
enacting a school change initiative:
- Allies both trust you and agree with you. Check in with them to
ensure that they’re on board but spend the bulk of your time focusing on other
This is a group that likely can be persuaded.
don’t trust you. If the latter, there are some strategies you can employ to
address that. If the former, you know they’re on board but it’s an uneasy
relationship. Either way, they’re in agreement so you probably don’t need to
spend much time on them. Just watch your back.
the bedfellows category by following some of the strategies listed.
Even so, it’s going to be an uneasy relationship.
the grid. Probably not. The best you can do is employ some of the strategies
listed above and hope for the best. Good luck.
The reason I like Block’s grid so much is that it really emphasizes the
political relationships that exist within organizations. As I discussed earlier
this week, paying attention to the political
aspects of change initiatives
is often vital for their success.
Who are your allies, opponents, adversaries, and bedfellows? Can you share an
example of how this framework applies to a recent change initiative in your