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Managing Resistance

"Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people." - Carl Jung


As a CTO, you will inevitably face resistance at some point in your career. Resistance can hinder progress and impede the adoption of valuable solutions, resulting in missed opportunities.

Resistance comes in many forms, from push-back on technology decisions to resistance to change within your organization. Overcoming resistance is crucial to the success of your team, your company and yourself. In this chapter, we will dive into some strategies and tactics that will help you overcome resistance as a CTO.


Resistance can be defined as the opposition or refusal to accept something new or different. It is a natural response to change but can also be a barrier to progress and growth. Managing resistance effectively is crucial for individuals, teams, and organizations to achieve their goals and objectives.

Resistance can manifest in various ways, such as passive-aggressive behavior, lack of participation, or outright defiance. By understanding the reasons behind resistance, we can better address it and find ways to overcome it. It is essential to manage resistance effectively because it can lead to delays, decreased productivity, and even project failure.

People may resist change for a variety of reasons:

  1. Fear: One of the most common reasons is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of losing control can all contribute to resistance. Acknowledging and addressing these fears is essential, as they can be a significant obstacle to successful change implementation.

  2. Understanding: Another reason people may resist change is a need for more understanding. If people need to understand why a change is necessary or how it will benefit them, they may hesitate to embrace it. Clear communication and education about the reasons for change and its potential benefits can help to alleviate resistance.

  3. Values: People may also resist change if they feel that their values or beliefs are being challenged or compromised. In such cases, it is essential to demonstrate how the change aligns with their values and beliefs or to provide alternative solutions that are more in line with them.

  4. Experience: Past negative experiences with change can also lead to resistance. In such cases, acknowledge these experiences and address any concerns that may arise. Doing so can help build trust and confidence in the change process and facilitate more successful implementation.

Recognize that resistance to change is sometimes good. It can provide valuable feedback and insights into potential issues or concerns. By understanding the common reasons for resistance, you can proactively develop strategies to manage it. Opposition can take many forms, each with its own unique characteristics and challenges.

  1. Passive: Passive opposition involves behaviors such as procrastination, avoidance, and withdrawal. This type of resistance can be challenging to identify because it often appears as though the individual is simply disengaged or uninterested.

  2. Active: Active opposition involves behaviors such as arguing, challenging authority, and openly expressing opposition. This type of resistance is more overt and easier to identify, but it can also be more challenging to manage because it may involve conflict and confrontation.

Resistance can have a significant impact on individuals, teams, and organizations. At the individual level, resistance can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Employees may feel overwhelmed by change or need clarification about their role in the new direction. This can decrease productivity and motivation, ultimately affecting the project's success.

Resistance can create conflict and tension among team members at the team level. This can lead to a breakdown in communication and collaboration, hindering progress and delaying timelines. Resistance can cause a lack of trust and respect within the team, which can have long-term implications for future projects.

This can also provide an opportunity to address individual or team concerns and help them feel more comfortable with the change. It is essential to approach resistance in a respectful and empathetic manner while still maintaining a focus on the goals and objectives of the change. Doing so can help create a more positive and productive work environment where irrational progress is made.

Managing Resistance

Understand the Root Cause of Resistance. Resistance to change can come from different sources, such as fear, lack of communication, lack of trust, and familiarity with the current system. Before addressing resistance, it's essential to understand the underlying factors causing it. As a CTO, identify these sources and form a strategy that addresses them.

Vision: Communicate the vision: Communicating the benefits and vision of change to your team is crucial in getting them to embrace the change. As a CTO, you are responsible for clear communication, outlining the impact, vision, and benefits of the change. Communicating these aspects can help the team understand the purpose behind the change and prepare them for the future.

Involvement: Involve your team in change management: Involving your team in change management can help them feel valued and heard in the process. As a CTO, provide opportunities for feedback and input, listen to what your team has to say, and collaborate with them to address their concerns. Involving the team can create buy-in and make the change process smoother.

Facilitate: Facilitate training and development: Resistance can come from fear of the unknown or a lack of understanding of the new system. As a CTO, facilitate training and development programs for your team to help them acquire the necessary skills and knowledge required for the change. Providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities can help them adapt to the new technology and feel confident in their abilities.

Celebrate: Celebrate Success and acknowledge progress: Celebrating success and acknowledging progress can motivate the team to move forward. As a CTO, recognize the milestones achieved in the digital transformation journey, encourage the team to keep going, and continue to provide support. Celebrating success can create a positive culture and help your team form a growth mindset.


Resistance to change is rarely irrational and stems from perspectives that make perfect sense to the individuals involved. Exploring and understanding these deeper individual reasons can help you devise strategies to manage resistance effectively during technological and administrative changes.

Change can be difficult for employees, and there are several reasons why they may resist it. It is important to understand and address these reasons to implement change successfully. Here are some common reasons for resistance to change:

  1. Job-security: Employees need to fully understand the rationale behind the proposed change to avoid resisting it and fear that it could result in losing control or job security.

  2. Control: Employees who feel like they are losing control over their work or environment may resist change. It is essential to involve employees in the change process and give them a sense of ownership.

  3. Understanding: If employees don't understand the reasons for the change or how it will affect them, they may resist it. Communication is key in addressing this issue.

  4. Uncertainty: Change can bring uncertainty, and employees may resist it because they are unsure of the future. Providing clear and consistent communication can help alleviate this fear.

  5. Trust: If employees don't trust the intentions or behavior of those leading the change, they may resist it. Building trust through open and honest communication is essential.

  6. Support: If employees feel like they don't have the support they need to navigate the change, they may resist it. Providing resources and support to help employees through the transition is essential.

  7. Status Quo: Some employees may resist change simply because they are comfortable with how things are. It is essential to show the benefits of the change and how it will improve the company or the employees' work.

  8. Failure: Employees may fear that they will not be able to adapt to the changes or that they will fail in their new roles. It is essential to provide training and support to help employees transition smoothly.

  9. Peer Pressure: Employees may resist change to protect the interests of their group or colleagues. Addressing these concerns and involving everyone in the change process is essential.


CTOs first of all need to lead by example. Being the first to adopt new technology, demonstrating how to embrace change, and showing enthusiasm for transformation can help create a culture of acceptance and support. Leading by example can also make it easier for employees to buy into new systems and can help overcome resistance.

The first strategy for overcoming resistance is to listen actively to it. Not suggesting you give in to resistance. Instead, take the time to understand why someone is resistant to whatever you're proposing. Identify what they are concerned about or how they are impacted. Then, address those concerns directly with well-thought-out and effective solutions.

Effective communication is the foundation of overcoming resistance. CTOs need to communicate clearly what changes are happening, why they are happening, and how they will impact the organization. Effective communication can also help to ease concerns, dispel myths, and build support.

Relax: When faced with resistance, it can be easy to become stressed and overwhelmed. To avoid this, it is essential to take a moment to relax and calm your mind. You can do this by taking deep breaths, meditating, or taking a break to clear your head before approaching the situation with a clear mind and a positive attitude.

Slow Answers: Providing quick answers when faced with resistance can be tempting, but this can often create adversarial relationships and cause more objections. Instead, take the time to explore the other person's perspective and seek their input. This approach can help you understand their concerns and work collaboratively towards a solution.

Hot Emotion: People who are frustrated or upset may be more resistant to change. It is essential to address their emotional state before tackling the problem. You can do this by acknowledging their feelings and showing empathy, which can help them feel heard and understood.

Openeness: When you encounter resistance, it can be easy to become defensive or dismissive. Remain curious and open-minded. Asking open-ended questions can help you understand the other person's viewpoint and identify any underlying concerns or issues. Once you understand their perspective better, you can work together to find a solution that meets everyone's needs.

"You cannot shame or belittle people into changing their behaviors." - Brené Brown

Soft Landings

To ensure that you can easily handle difficult questions, you prepare yourself with some strategies. One such method is to use soft landing strips to introduce hard questions. This means you can use the sentence before your question to provide context and make the question easier to answer.

Overall, you can improve your ability to handle difficult questions with ease and confidence by implementing these strategies and taking the time to prepare and practice:

  1. Explain: Explain your intention behind asking the question. For example: 'I'm asking to understand the situation better'.

  2. Gratitude: Show gratitude for the person raising the question or concern. For instance, 'Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

  3. Summarize: Summarize the information you have heard to ensure you understand it correctly. You can say, 'Here's what I think you said. Do you think I've got it right? If not, what am I missing?'

  4. Acknowledge: Acknowledge the person's feelings or emotions. You can mention, 'It seems like you feel strongly about this.'

"The most successful companies are the ones that embrace change and navigate resistance with agility and determination." - Tim Cook


You have learned the importance of managing resistance as a CTO and how it can impact the success of your team, company, and yourself. Resistance is a natural response to change, but it can hinder progress and growth. By understanding the reasons behind resistance, such as fear, lack of understanding, conflicting values, and past negative experiences, you can effectively address and overcome it.

To manage resistance, you need to communicate the vision and benefits of change to your team, involve them in the change management process, and provide training and support to help them adapt. Celebrating success and acknowledging progress can also motivate your team to embrace change. It is crucial to approach resistance with empathy, respect, and open-mindedness, addressing concerns and seeking collaborative solutions.

Resistance to change is not always irrational. It stems from perspectives that make sense to individuals involved. By actively listening, understanding concerns, and addressing them with well-thought-out solutions, you can overcome resistance and foster a positive and productive work environment. Leading by example, communicating effectively, and remaining calm and open-minded are key strategies in managing resistance.

In the face of resistance, embrace the challenge with courage and persistence. Understand that managing resistance is a vital part of your role as a CTO, and overcoming it can lead to personal and professional growth. By navigating resistance with empathy and effective communication, you can inspire your team to embrace change, achieve goals, and drive success. Be the catalyst for transformation and create a culture where progress thrives amidst adversity.


As a CTO ask yourself the following:

1. How can I embrace change and overcome resistance in my own life and career?

2. What fears or concerns do I have about embracing change, and how can I address them?

3. How can I effectively communicate the vision and benefits of change to others?

4. In what ways can I involve and empower my team in the change management process?

5. How can I foster a positive and productive work environment where resistance is addressed with empathy and open-mindedness?

6. What strategies can I implement to manage resistance and navigate difficult conversations with my team?

7. How can I lead by example and inspire others to embrace change and drive success?


Your takeaways from this chapter:

  1. The importance of managing resistance as a CTO: understand the impact resistance can have on your team, company, and personal growth.

  2. Communicate the vision and benefits of change: clearly articulate why the change is necessary and how it will benefit individuals and the organization.

  3. Involve your team in change management: seek their input, address their concerns, and make them feel valued and heard throughout the process.

  4. Provide training and support: help your team acquire the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to the changes effectively.

  5. Celebrate success and acknowledge progress: motivate your team by recognizing milestones and creating a positive work culture.

  6. Approach resistance with empathy and open-mindedness:lListen actively, understand concerns, and seek collaborative solutions.

  7. Lead by example: Demonstrate your willingness to embrace change and show enthusiasm for transformation.


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