Communicate The 4P’s Of Transition: The 5th Leadership Key To Balance Authority & Collaboration

By Stephen Haslam and Robert Pennington, Ph.D., Resource International

This is the fifth in an eight part series on Balancing Authority and Collaboration

The 5th Key: Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”

Earlier in this series we explored how resistance to authority inhibits collaboration, and why it is important to address employee’s concerns without relinquishing authority by asking permission. The 4 P’s of Transition is a valuable model in this balancing act when communicating about strategic changes.

People will be more motivated to work toward a strategic objective or contribute to a project if they understand

(1) The Purpose; why we have to do this,

(2) The Picture: What it will look and feel like when we reach our goal,

(3) The Plan: Step-by-step, how we will get there,

(4) The Part: What you can (and need to) do to help us move forward. (Bridges)

The CEO, President, or highest Executive Sponsor is the best person to communicate messages that influence control over the direction of the business (Purpose, Picture, Plan), while the Direct Supervisor is most appropriate for messages that influence control over the direction of daily activities (Part). The most important messages to impacted employees fall into two categories.

  1. Messages about things: (from the CEO or President)
    1. Current situation and rationale for the change (Purpose).
    2. Vision of organization after change takes place (Picture).
    3. The basics of what is changing, how it will change, and when it will change (Plan).
    4. The expectation that change will happen and is not a choice.
    5. Status updates on the implementations of the change, including success stories.
  2. Messages about how the change impacts the employee:  (from the Supervisor) (Part).
    1. Impact of change on the day-to-day activities (WIIFM).
    2. Implications of change on job security (will I have a job?).
    3. Specific behaviors and activities expected from the employee, including support of the change.
    4. Procedures for getting help and assistance during the change.

The ultimate objective of using these techniques is to establish a work environment in which everyone feels safe to disagree so that communication is more open and work is more productive.

The 8 Keys To Balance Leadership Authority & Collaboration

  1. Position Power & Personal Power
  2. Expect resistance to authority
  3. Address levels of concern
  4. Don’t ask permission
  5. Communicate “The 4 P’s of Transition”
  6. Engage leaders at all levels
  7. Demonstrate respect to build trust and commitment
  8. Get tools in your tool belt

* Resources

Leadership Development: How to Get the Results You Need by Haslam and Pennington.

Reducing Resistance to Change and Conflict: A Key to Successful Leadership by Haslam and Pennington.

Kotter, John P. (2003).  The Power of Feelings, An Interview with John P. Kotter, Leader to Leader, No. 27, Winter 2003.

Bridges, W., & Mitchell, S. (2000).  Leading Transition: A New Model for Change.  Leader to Leader, No. 16, Spring 2000.

Hall, G. E., Wallace, R. C., & Dossett, W. A. (1973).  A developmental conceptualization of the adoption process within educational institutions (Rep. No. 3006). Austin, Texas: The University of Texas at Austin, The Research and Development Center for Teacher Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction No. ED 095 126).

Rob Pennington and Stephen Haslam work with leaders and managers.  Find out more at Resource International,

5 Steps That Turn Asking for Help Into A Sign of Strength

In chapter 6 in my autobiographical self-help book, Find the Upside of the Down Times, I describe my experience of being audited by the IRS and my fears about not having enough money.  Anybody else ever had that fear, especially in these challenging economic times? Through that experience I learned a most important lesson, namely that,

Asking for help is an act of strength & confidence, not an act of weakness.

This is not an easy lesson to learn. Asking for help requires facing the need for help. Many of us would rather not, for many reasons, but mainly because even the thought of asking for help can be uncomfortable, much less the actual asking. Asking for help is like openly and publicly admitting a mistake or weakness, a flaw or inadequacy. For anyone who grew up being criticized

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Use the Down Times to Find Your Life Purpose

“I am so happy to have Jerry Lopper as a contributor having enjoyed his insightful blog:  I was immediately touched by the following post because I also experienced having to sneak home from elementary school to avoid being beaten up by local bullies.  Jerry’s wisdom on increasing clarity about one’s life purpose makes any challenge a relevant opportunity for growth.  Please leave a comment and check out links to additional posts on this topic at the end.”  – Rob

Use The Down Times To Find Your Life Purpose

By Jerry Lopper

When I was eight or nine years old I was bullied and tormented by a group of old neighborhood kids. Borrowing from Dr. Pennington’s Find the Upside of the Down Times, that decidedly down time in my life was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

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3 Steps To Move From The Darkness To The Dawn… Quicker

“It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.” 
Thomas Fuller, English Theologian and Historian (1608-1661)

    In the middle of the darkness it doesn’t look like I’m about to awaken to a greater dawn. But at such times I have discovered that I have a power I didn’t know I had; a power to shed light into my own darkness. Sometimes I find this power this by calling on a “Higher Power” to light my way. Sometimes it is just sitting down and answering the question, “What one step could I take today that will take me one step closer to my goal?” Sometimes I need to do both.
   My first step in the difficult task of bringing light into the darkness is to remember that I still have power to act constructively, even in the dark, down times. When I remember this, my world opens to more opportunities than the darkness allowed me to see. But it amazes me how often I forget. Hopefully you will be quicker at remembering this than I have been!  Here are three helpful reminders…
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Radio Interviews with Dr Rob

You can listen to the following entertaining, insightful Radio Interviews conducted around the country with Dr. Rob Pennington.

NPR’s Lisa Davis on  It’ (Boston)


CBS Radio Saturday Night with Esme Murphy (Minneapolis) “Emotional Intelligence: Being Nice is More Successful Than Being Smart!”


Kacey on the Radio  Let the Light In! on WHUD-AM (New York).


KQ Morning Show on KQRS-FM (Minneapolis).



Everyday Wisdom For Families‘ Josh Peterson on Blog Talk Radio: “4 Steps to Transfer Responsibility to Your Children”  


If you would like to interview Dr. Pennington on your program, please contact Stephen Haslam at 713-305-1812.



We all have lessons to learn that could make us more effective, loving and successful.  I certainly do.  

These pages are full of discoveries that cost me time and pain and but also brought me unexpected blessings.  My purpose is to help you get to those blessings quicker than I have. 

I hope you will participate with me in this opportunity by subscribing and sharing your journey as well.  Make comments.  Ask questions.  Let’s help each other build a network of support that improves both our lives and our world.  

Thanks for dropping by! – Dr Rob Pennington  –

Let’s also connect on:            

My Guest Posts On Other Blogs

Here are a few of the guest posts I have been invited to provide for other blogs:

Being Devoted: A Journey of Discovering The Upside In The Down Times on Ruth Hill’s describes my lessons and discoveries in caring for my wife, Clair, through her illness.  This guest post is lower down the page below a very heartfelt book review by Ruth for which I am very grateful.

How I Feel Is Up To Me! on Gail Lynne Goodwin’s  In addition, take a look at my replies to comments below this 500 word post on “what I would want my grandchildren to know”. There are lots of insights you might also enjoy.

“A Reason To Be Happy” on The Psychology of Well Being. “You think you’ve had a rough life?….There is a lot we can learn from Dr. Rob Pennington.”

“You Don’t Have To Know How To Believe You Can” on Tia Sparkles’ Your Life Your Way

“Use Your Worry To Create A Goal!” on Steve Nash’s Self Help Collective

“Practice Feeling Good – For No Reason!” on David Leonhardt’s The Happy Guy

“7 Q&A: #1 What was your inspiration behind writing this book?” on Eva Rykr’s blog

“24 Q&A!! #1 Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.” on Inspired Kathy’s I’m A Reader Not A Writer

“I got fired. It was one of the best things that ever happened to me.”-Steve Jobs

Although I begin the 4th chapter in my book with these same words, I learned this evening that Steve Jobs had the same experience a few years after mine. He speaks eloquently about it during his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.

I hope you are as inspired as I am by the courage he had to live the life of his dreams, “as if today was my last”. Sadly, today was Steve’s last day.

His commitment to his vision has changed the way billions interact with each other and the world. His contagious enthusiasm will be missed.

Please take this link to hear his 14 minute address.

Turn Worry Into Its Positive Opposite Possibility – A Goal! (audio recording at end)

In the book, Find The Upside of the Down Times, I write about a time when I had a $36,000 hospital bill with no insurance and I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to pay it. This occurred right after I had been shot in the chest, so I was convalescing at home, not able to work. I’m self-employed, so if I’m not working I don’t generate income.

All I could see was a future of going deeper in debt and never being able to get out. This was not the goal I wanted to achieve. But I couldn’t imagine how to fix it and so I couldn’t stop worrying. Does this all sound a little familiar? I bet we’ve all felt this way at some time. Perhaps you might even feel this way right now!
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