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Developing Great Change Agents

“Growth is painful.  CHANGE is painful.  But nothing is as painful as staying somewhere you don’t belong” – Mindy Hale

Welcome to my second article about great Change Agents. My first article described the profile of great (vs good) Change Agents. This article speaks to the leadership skills and competencies a good Change Agent should develop to become the heart and soul toward enacting disruptive and enduring departures from the status quo.

  • Master Your Listening Skills: Excellent listeners are able to put themselves in the shoes of all stakeholders – especially those who may be struggling to support a disruptive change from the status quo. Learn to enable skeptics to be part of the solution, focused on overcoming challenges and obstacles. You’ll know you’ve succeeded as a master listener as you develop trusted and trusting relationships. Trust in turn breeds buy-in to change.
  • Build the Courage of Your Conviction to Take Responsibility for Resolving Difficult Challenges:  Learn to become energized when confronted by complex challenges and find those reserves of resilience, courage, confidence and grit. Leverage your motivation to make a difference and believe in your ability to overcome any obstacle by being resourceful and solution-focused. Be bold in building a dynamic array of social networks and connections to provide visibility into areas of confusion or uncertainty that need to be clarified. Stay steady when the going gets rough!
  • As a “Meaning Maker,” Become a Master at Articulating Compelling Reasons for Change: Build strong social and technical skills to better enable you to sell change throughout the organization in a non-threatening manner. Be purposeful and intentional in advancing the benefits of change and a new normal. Always be optimistic and inspire hope, not fear. Be able to share a sense of the possibilities and their achievability. Inspire action by providing clear and unambiguous messages and scripts on why commitment is necessary.
  • Don’t Just Take Accountability. Ensure Accountability Over Time:  People respect courage and accountability – leaders who hold themselves and their teams accountable for superior performance. Learn to access and nurture power relationships to generate personal accountability for change. Promote high levels of collaboration internally and externally, e.g., leading steering committees, participating in staff education, engagement and work redesign programs, etc. Don’t be afraid to stimulate healthy debate in the system, providing enough clarity in “psychologically safe” environments to foster new ideas and ways of doing things without creating too much or too little heat in the system.
  • As a Solution- and Outcome-focused Leader, Model the Quality of Professional Humility: Courageous and selfless, be role models first, advocates second. Create settings for success without needing to control the process. Encourage stakeholders to generate their own ideas while you drive the overall vision and be there to break down obstacles and barriers, creating a win-win for all. Be in service, not subservient.
  • Become a Master at Cultivating Highly Trusted and Trusting Relationships: Value and seek out the opinions (and criticisms) of others. Learn to put yourself in the shoes of others and focus on solutions that will position them to exceed expectations. This may be THE skill that most enabled me to lead the enactment of highly disruptive and, in several cases, threatening change throughout my career. The human condition is to avoid change and orient to the status quo. Therefore, it is critically important to cultivate trusted relationships that will set the stage to articulate the possibilities and their achievability.

Not easy, especially with those who, for any number of reasons, are threatened and tend to be among the most important stakeholders the success of the transformation depends upon. As a professionally-humble, solution-focused leader, learn to develop those trusted and trusting relationships to enable win-win situations that position all stakeholders to exceed their own and the expectations of others.

Your goal as a great Change Agent:  To build a cadre of Change Agents throughout your organization, emerging as the heart and soul of the enactment of disruptive and enduring departures from the status quo!

Now that you have these tips and a profile of a great Change Agent, are you ready to take the next step? Download my 5 secrets to becoming a Change Master.

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