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Detecting and Responding to Resistance to The Mission

Once you know what you want, you have a positive attitude about it and you have surrounded yourself with like-minded people, the odds of being successful are greatly increased. However, despite your best efforts, a team member may still resist the mission at hand. That resistance may be subtle at first, but progress as it is ignored. The resistance may show as a non-verbal gesture, a tone of voice, inappropriate sarcasm, sidebar conversation during meetings, undermining authority, etc.

Successful leaders react when they detect that a team member may be resistant to the mission as soon as it is noticed. They know there may be something to learn or something they have missed that the resistant person knows. They recognize that they may be the cause of the resistance and therefore want to learn what they can do differently to resolve the issue. Regardless, they know that it is critical to strike while the iron is cold. They maintain control of their emotions so that they can plan a successful outcome. They privately talk with their people that may be resistant because they know there may be new information available that they do not have. They want to address any issue while it is small rather than waiting for it to grow into a larger issue.


Successful leaders have learned how to be keenly aware of communication cues that belie the problem. They notice facial expressions, tonal sounds, silence and other human communication techniques that tip their knowledge that something is awry. They use this knowledge to plan their approach.

Successful leaders approach the person quickly and ask soft questions to uncover the source of the resistance.

They act curious and interested in searching out information to be better as opposed to being critical and demanding cooperation.

They encourage differing opinions knowing that ideas can be fine-tuned to make them better, all the while explaining their methods toward achieving the mission. There is a give and take.

They are encouraging toward the person of resistance, explaining how everyone is important toward the achievement of the mission. Successful leaders show patience.

If the successful leader has surrounded themselves with like-minded people, most will respond positively to the above methods and potentially improved communication between the two parties’ results in a higher quality outcome.

If the person continues to be resistant, the successful leader moves even closer to the person displaying the resistance. They seek the advice of their leaders or their Human Resource professionals in hopes of helping the resistant individual achieve the standard of performance desired.

About the author: Alan R. Crnko is an Alliance Safety Council board member and business consultant in the Baton Rouge, LA, area. He has spent his career providing workforce development services. He can be contacted at