Six Leadership Survival Techniques When Change Hits

The merger took hold and all the departments across four offices became one unit. Leaders of all ranks folded together to create a brand new firm. Disbelief and shock began to trickle down as the employees digested what had just happened to them. The mood was one of uncertainty and confusion, as teams imagined what their place would be in the new entity. They knew it was happening yet the reality of the change had not set in completely.

I began working with one of the teams to sort out how they were coping with the merger. To get a better read on how each of these leaders was feeling I asked them about their “take” on all the recent changes.

“I am so upset about the merger. I loved my old company.”

“I am scared what the future holds.”

“I’m not happy that we have a new organization name.”

“I guess I will ride with it. Who knows.”

It became clear that the merger had made a great impact on each person’s work world. Change is very personal and affects people differently. Even if the change is a positive one, it can bring chaos to the best leaders out there. The critical part of change is that it is constant and the better we get at dealing with it when it arrives, the more resilient we will become.

Six leadership survival techniques when change hits:


Leaders need to take time to validate their feelings about a merger. Acknowledge what will be changing and what will no longer be. This first step is essential to embracing any change or merger. It’s perfectly normal to be angry if we are asked to say good-bye to a great situation in which we felt comfortable.


Getting all the facts about how a change is going to impact our work world is pivotal.

  • Learn why the change or merger is taking place
  • Ask how the change will affect your department
  • See how the change fits into the vision and mission of your organization
  • Be clear on the big picture


When leaders are in a state of flux or uncertainty it can be very helpful to reach out to a trusted person. Just sharing our concerns about the impact on our work lives can be comforting. Additionally our support system can help us brainstorm steps to take to deal with the change so that we are feeling more in control.


During a change it is critical to block-out any negative chatter coming into our heads. Leaders need to find positive mantras that can help them overcome any anxiety or fear. Here are a few that may help:

  • “Change is part of life.”
  • “I have been through worse experiences than this one.”
  • “This is a great opportunity.”
  • “Just do it!”
  • “This too shall pass.”


To ensure your success after a change or merger leaders must be clear on their new roles and responsibilities. Don’t assume that your projects and goals will be the same. Leaders need to advocate what they want to focus on and be aware of who will be helping them.


Each leader embraces change at different speeds so if you are ready to move forward and a team member needs re-assurance be there for them. Be sensitive to other’s concerns.

  • Take the person out to lunch or coffee
  • Ask how they are doing
  • Offer to help them deal with a concern
  • Tell them you are there to be a support

What leadership survival techniques do you use during times of change?

If you need some guidance in dealing with a change or a merger please reach out.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

2 thoughts on “Six Leadership Survival Techniques When Change Hits

  1. When a company I worked for went through a merger, it was tough for many of the reasons you outline here. When our team flew out to meet the new team in the new parent organization that did similar work to us… we discovered something – redundancy. There was the making of a battle to see who the new leaders would be in the combined division. Rather than take part, I helped mentor others who weren’t facing the same issues to find their way forward in the new landscape. I ultimately took a new position in the new parent company. Yes, things changed, but it also brought new opportunities. This is a common (and often scary) experience. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Terri.
    Will share!


  2. Thanks for sharing your important story with us. On one hand mergers can be scary and yet as you said they also can bring great opportunity. The most difficult part of a merger is the unknown and wondering how it will play out with positions and job responsibilities. But leaders need to stay open and be willing to try new paths to fit in to the new work world.

    I appreciate your openness as always Alli!

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