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West Point Cadets
West Point cadets and instructors

West Point Cadets

A group of 13 cadets and four instructors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point take on the weekly 'On Leadership' questions. Who better to explore the gray areas of leadership than members of The Long Gray Line?

Understanding resistance

Question: It's now obvious that Homeland Security officials misjudged the public reaction to new airport security measures. What should leaders do when confronted with widespread backlash against a decision they still believe to be sound and in which they have invested considerable money and reputation? Should the TSA try to weather the storm or plot a strategic retreat?

Many leaders face resistance when introducing change; listening and responding clearly is what I recommend. When resistance is strong and emotional, leaders should first try to understand the source of resistance. Backing down or back peddling immediately in the face of resistance could result in a loss of credibility or the perception of being weak and prone to folding under pressure. It is human nature to resist change, especially when people do not understand certain aspects of change, its purpose, or how it will affect them.

Leaders must be skilled communicators, ready to translate reasons for change and coach people through it, especially when change may violate a perceived contract between organizational members and their leadership. In the case of the TSA, the violation is that of what travelers perceive as their right to respect, dignity and privacy. New TSA procedures have violated what travelers have previously agreed to, and resistance is neither surprising or unmanageable. People will continue to resist change until they fully understand the need for the change and how their voice is heard in the
process. The leadership of the TSA must listen and speak more clearly and
consistently than those complaining. -Cadet Carissa Hauck

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

By West Point Cadets

 |  November 24, 2010; 1:38 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals , Government leadership , Making mistakes , Managing Crises Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Adding insult to injury | Next: A flawed process

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Think young. Unfortunately I can't get the message through to my feet and back. Nevertheless send Christmas gifts from the heart for a start.

Posted by: jobandon | November 29, 2010 11:04 AM
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I can’t recall any American trying to take down an airplane over the last hundred years. A hundred years! Can anyone recall an American trying to take down a plane over the last 100 years? Bueller? Anyone? and patting down little kids and old women is truly a national embarrassment if not a right out obscenity… I’m truly embarrassed for the TSA management. Shame on you! Quite frankly fellas, Americans are very proud that the airplane was invented by an American in the good ole USA, if the TSA management didn’t get their head wrap up so tight over worrying they’d see the obvious embarrassment and mockery that the system has become. I don’t blame the TSA at all, I blame the management. Score one for Bin Laden.

Posted by: steve_real | November 25, 2010 11:02 AM
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"Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both." - Benjamin Franklin


Posted by: shadowmagician | November 24, 2010 6:20 PM
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"Leaders must be skilled communicators, ready to translate reasons for change and coach people through it, especially when change may violate a perceived contract between organizational members and their leadership. In the case of the TSA, the violation is that of what travelers perceive as their right to respect, dignity and privacy."
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Well my PERCEPTION is that the TSA has a sweetheart deal for expensive scanners that do NOT make the average passenger safer.

The "you don't like it, you don't fly" attitude where a passenger has to prove his innocence before boarding may be applicable to occupied Iraq – but not to the U.S.A.

I believe there was a problem here concerning “unreasonable search” without “the consent of the governed” 240 years ago – how exactly did that turn out?

Posted by: shadowmagician | November 24, 2010 5:56 PM
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