The change process always begins with some disconfirmation, some recognition on the part of leaders that something is not working—what I have labeled survival anxiety. As they identify the business problem, they develop a vision of the future—the new thing to be learned. The desired new learning has to be articulated in clear behavioral terms, and it is this articulation that produces resistance to change and defensive denial—what I have labeled learning anxiety. The key is to understand that resistance to change is to be expected as a normal phenomenon, and that new learning will only take place if the learner is made to feel psychologically secure.
In terms of a principle for transformative change, motivation to learn the desired new behavior will only be present if survival anxiety is greater than learning anxiety; but a second principle is that the preferred way to achieve this state is to reduce learning anxiety by providing the learner psychological safety.