You Can’t Avoid Resistance

“If you don’t like resistance, don’t go into leadership.”

What a show stopper!  Today, Andy Hargreaves presented at a conference for Ontario senior leaders where he finished up with this quote. There was an immediate buzz of laughter and agreement in the room. I have never heard it put just like that, but it’s so true. Hargreaves’ work is internationally recognized; he focusses on helping others build their capacity through group interaction, mentorship and celebration of accomplishments. He also lays it on the line when it comes to the challenges of leadership and what is not working.


Many aspiring leaders find colleagues’ resistance very frustrating. I’ve had lots of conversations where others bemoan the fact that teachers throw up road blocks, or students just won’t try, or principals keep complaining about having to do “X”. To me, resistance is part of life – part of being human. Who doesn’t resist sometimes? If we’re scared of what might come, or can’t see the point of the hard work, we all want to say no.  Nowadays, it really isn’t enough to say, “Do it because I said so,” whether you’re the parent of a teenager or the principal of a school.

Leadership is often about helping people uncover their own roadblocks, igniting their passion and opening their eyes to the bigger ‘why’. As a leader, you need to know your own purpose in order to do that. In other words, if you’re asking others to do something just because your boss told you to, that is not going to fly.  And if you’re not up for some conflict and difficulty, don’t become a leader.


One response to “You Can’t Avoid Resistance”

  1. Wow Sue! What a post. You’ve made me think of pseudo-leadership experiences, and how I responded to resistance. I can’t help but question, what could I do, or how could I feel, differently? Time to do some thinking.


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