Lately, during some of my coaching sessions, I’ve noticed a bit of a “passenger pattern” and I’d like to share it with you. Knowing full well it’s always a bad idea to categorize, label, or stereotype people or groups, for today’s purposes only, I’m going to take the liberty to do a little “clustering”, if you will. Follow me.

The “passenger patterns” I’m noticing fall into three boarding groups: 

  • Change Warriors
  • Resistors
  • Skeptics

Two of these groups are sometimes mistakenly interchanged. But only one of these groups wears a disguise that a leader needs to watch out for.

If you’re a Change Warrior, you’re typically all-in on making the best of a new and alternative situation, regardless of your attachment to the past. Moving forward is how you fail faster and get to the next success quicker. Your ability to shrug off “learning experiences” happens at a much more rapid pace than those around you, and your desire to pull others onboard your train is palpable.

However, determining the difference between a Resistor and a Skeptic is a little more challenging. Resistors are often successful individuals, who because of this success may be invested in the status quo and keeping things the way they are. They may know how to work the system, how to please the boss, and how to influence the outcome they desire. They may tend to “stay in their lane” and seem cooperative, even encouraging or supportive. Because they know the organization well, they know histories and how to make persuasive arguments. It’s no wonder why Change Warriors seek to convert Resistors in order to move forward with plans and initiatives. It seems like this is the group we would want on board.

A Skeptic, on the other hand, asks challenging questions about programs, directions, and proposals. A common refrain may be “How do we know this will work?” “What about the time we tried this and we failed?” “Why aren’t we considering ABC instead of XYZ?” “What is our plan if this doesn’t work?” A Skeptic seems like A LOT of work to get on board the train.

But what if we took a deeper look at this?

It may be annoying to field questions from Skeptics; I get that. And Resistors tend not to ask questions and are more likely to say “I’m behind you all the way. Call me if you need anything.” Who wouldn’t want to hear that? (Seems like a no-brainer on which group to put my Change Warriors on to me!)

But unfortunately, despite their outward positively-disguised comments, Resistors will not be joining your Change Warriors. On occasion, Resistors may even work behind the scenes to discourage others from getting on board. It’s the Skeptics, who more than likely, are simply operating out of curiosity and progressive intent, that is the group soon to board if given a travel itinerary of plausible answers.

Noticing Resistors’ disguises will go a long way in deploying your energy and effort in the right direction. Trying to change a truly committed Resistor is a waste of your time. Ferret out your Skeptics and deploy your Change Warriors to answer Skeptics’ questions, focus their curious energy, and create necessary momentum with these two groups.

Mistakenly interchanging Resistors and Skeptics will only keep your train loaded yet stuck in the station.