Lisa Fisher

Embracing Resistance from Stakeholders

Discussion created by Lisa Fisher on Feb 13, 2017

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

- Charles Darwin


As a leader, you’re no stranger to change. Yet change, while constant, can be met with resistance by teachers, parents, and other stakeholders who may not agree with the outcomes, or may simply not be ready to embrace a new way of doing things. So how do you get everyone on board?


We typically have more success when we acknowledge and embrace resistance rather than avoiding it. However, embracing resistance requires a strong working relationship with all the stakeholders involved; otherwise, your attempts may be hampered.


When implementing change in your school, the following practices will help achieve a strong working relationship:


  • Respect those that resist and make it clear that resistance is “safe”
  • Work to understand the reason for the resistance
  • Find common elements in your respective positions
  • Establish to what extent the person has already bought into the overall vision, objectives, and implementation procedures at your school
  • Discuss the question “What’s in it for us?”
  • Develop a plan of action


Embracing resistance and getting everyone to buy into the long-term plan is a challenge, especially if the stakeholders were not part of the original team planning the change. It’s important to meet people where they are and understand the underlying reasons for the resistance. For example, perhaps people have some knowledge of the emerging changes, but they are unclear of the scope, depth, full impact, or even the rationale for the change. People in this category realize that they will be affected, but they are not sure how. As a leader who embraces resistance, you can actively communicate the information that people need in order to get on board.


A useful model of the conditions for successful implementation of change (Knoster, Villa, & Thousand, 2000) can provide more insight into how stakeholders respond to change implementation, and what might be an underlying cause of resistance or frustration.



As a leader, how do you get people on board and embrace change? Engage with your colleagues and join the conversation below.