Gleicher’s Formula for beating resistance to change

By Mike McGlothlin


I enjoy spending time with advisors who have a common goal of seeking knowledge, building relationships and maintaining client interests above their own. Most seasoned advisors experience resistance with clients and collaborative partnerships due to the complexity of client solutions.

I attended the Society of Financial Service Professionals Leadership Development Conference in early March. (If you are a credentialed professional and have not looked at this organization, please do so. It is our industry's best-kept secret for professional growth and ethical accountability among peers.) At the conference, I was re-introduced to Gleicher's Formula for overcoming resistance:
    D x V x F > R = ∆
D = Dissatisfaction about the current situation
V = Vision of how things could be in the future
F = First steps necessary to change the outcome
R = Resistance
∆ (delta) = The change

This formula explains how to persuade anyone — including ourselves — to change behavior. Getting people to act is one of the most difficult things to accomplish in any sales or leadership role. However, by understanding the depth of a person's problem, we create urgency. The vision of how the problem can go away increases the likelihood for change exponentially. Even if the person doesn't perceive that a problem exists, a clear vision of success may motivate change. But if clear first steps are not demonstrated, the formula does not produce enough value to overcome the resistance to change.

Think of the first steps as a zero in the equation. Anything times anything times zero equals zero. If you are looking to beat resistance, either external or internal, evaluate the severity of letting the current behavior continue against how much better the situation improves by the change. But most importantly, focus on the first step. It energizes change. Resistance will always be greater without action.