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Are you a steamroller, shirker or steerer when leading through change?

||  —  11/07/23

There are three common responses I see from leaders when leading through change. They are: Steamroller, shirker and steerer.

The steamroller tries to force change with a command and control ‘tell’ approach without addressing the legitimate concerns, questions and feelings of their people.

The shirker avoids leadership by sticking their head in the sand and pretending the change is not happening, shirking their responsibility for delivering difficult messages or dealing with the complex people part of leadership.

The steerer understands that leadership is about people and as such, they have a responsibility to guide their team through the storm of change so that they emerge in the best shape possible. They know that involves balancing clarity with curiosity and empathy with accountability and are up for the challenge.

Consider your natural approach to leading through change.

Be honest.

Are you more of a steamroller, steerer or shirker?


▶ Is high energy.

▶ Gets the job done.

▶ Is all about action.

▶ Steamrolls through resistance.

▶ Is fast and forward focussed.

▶ Does more telling than asking.

▶ Uses command and control.

▶ Leaves people behind.


▶ Avoids dealing with the change and having conversations.

▶ Waits for someone else to take the lead.

▶ Doesn’t take personal responsibility for their own leadership role.

▶ Puts their head in the sand.

▶ Expects the change to just magically happen and for them and the team to be swept along in the current.

▶ Is surprised when people react to change negatively or with resistance.


▶ Asks more questions.

▶ Takes a considered approach.

▶ Gets curious about where they’re going and how to bring others along.

▶ Steers people in a positive direction with influence based on trust.

▶ Looks at options.

▶ Has a vision for where they’re going and where they want to be, but is open to different ways of getting there.

▶ Holds people accountable for behaviour.

Recognising that you can be a steamroller or a shirker doesn’t make you a bad person or even necessarily a poor leader. The fact that you acknowledge it means you can do something about it and course correct to steer the ship and your people through.


*The above is an excerpt from my new book ‘Steer Through the Storm: How to Communicate and Lead Courageously Through Change’, released this Thursday 13 July 2023.

Leah Mether is a communication and soft skills trainer obsessed with making the people part of leadership and work life easier.

With more than 15 years’ experience working with thousands of clients, and an acclaimed book to her name, Leah knows what it takes to communicate under pressure. Like you, she knows the challenge of conflict, personality clashes, and difficult conversations.

Leah is renowned for her practical, engaging, straight-shooting style. Utilising her Five Cs® model of communication, she helps leaders and teams shift from knowing to doing, and radically improve their effectiveness.

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