You can become an actor in your favourite video game with a VR headset (augmented reality is even used to teach doctors how to perform some complex surgeries). Glasses that give sight to the blind now exist. And this year, SpaceX should send 2 people on a private mission around the moon.
Disruption is not a trend, but the norm. Soon, you’ll be asked to promote innovative thinking and embrace risk taking.
But do you know, intimately, what change means?
If you want to navigate change easily and with confidence (or lead others through the process), you’ll need to think like a leader.
Navigating change demands a clear intention
When we start a large transformation project, I always ask my clients why they want to do what they’ve ask me to do. 10 years from now, do you think you’ll look back and say: “we made the right decision”?
“We need to fix this” is not enough: it doesn’t tell you much about the long term value. If you’re ever asked to lead any kind of transformation, you need to know precisely why “different” is going to become “better”.
- Related: All management is change management
Change starts with an acknowledgement of the current situation
Many of the young leaders I mentor get frustrated when we discuss what they need to work on before accessing the next step.
Their frustration doesn’t come from the challenge to grow (say, morph into a more senior version of themselves). It’s often about looking at the past, seeing their current situation with objectivity, and clarifying where they need to change in the first place.
You won’t navigate change easily (at work or in life) if you’re not crystal clear on where you are now. Do you know intimately the toxic distractions that impede your leadership? Can you explain, in simple words, why moving away from the current state is a better option than maintaining the status quo?
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Change happens with a team of followers
No transformation will succeed unless the right support is present. At work, it’s often due to the support of a senior responsible owner, whose job is to back the project with authority.
Who’s supporting you? To navigate change easily, inspiration is your best ally. Where are you finding it? Are you focused on benefits? Are you communicating in an inclusive fashion? Have you developed enough charisma so that people will follow naturally?
Long term benefits make navigating change easier
Change initiatives usually result in better value for the ones who benefit from it (this is why we do it).
If you’re leading change, being aware of your “change currency” will give you enough depth to influence at higher levels (quite helpful when you meet resistance to your plans!).
What’s the long term, visible and measurable impact you intend to achieve? Team performance? Customer service? Cost optimisation? Who will benefit from the journey?
Change teaches you to adjust your direction of travel
Visionary leaders seem to navigate change easily, no matter the circumstances. In reality, they are responsive because they follow a direction of travel and adjust as they see fit.
You need perspective to develop a strategic view. Think about it: if you’re riding your bike, shifting your direction by 1 degree results in a large impact. If you’re driving a plane, you can deviate slightly without getting lost.
All paths lead to Rome, and who cares if you enter the city by the North or South gate? A flexible leader keeps an open mind, as this guarantees they will spot opportunities to pivot when needed.
Powerful change is all about building habits
The path to transformation is a rocky road. Change doesn’t happen when the final bit is in place. In fact, the effects start on day 1, as your motivation nurtures habit formation.
If someone is undergoing massive weight loss, the effect of change is visible after some time. But the byproduct is there quickly: healthy habits that will outlast the actual initial goal.
In a leader’s arsenal, being able to detect what works well and make it a habit is one of the best assets. Do you stop and learn your lessons? How can you build lasting results in a similar fashion? To go deeper, check this post with 10 awesome questions to coach yourself (and others).
Change focuses on outcomes
Amazon didn’t deliver “a fully included service where you can shop and control your main house functions with a smart speaker”.
Amazon delivered one quick win after another. Shop from the comfort of your home. Improve the way you live at home using a cheap assistant you can speak to 24/7.
To navigate change easily, you need to envision tangible outcomes. Can you move away from the “what it is” and get closer to “what it means for myself, or for others”?
To navigate change easily, start with yourself
The biggest lesson I have learned myself while helping others with change is that if you’re not on it yourself, no one will ever be!
What does your commitment look like? How do you respond to resistance?
As you support change, what has shifted within yourself? How far did you – as a person – use the energy of transformation at your advantage?
Aside from the hard work it requires, navigating change is hard because it is, first, an emotional experience.
The ones who are successful by embracing change don’t have any magic trick! They navigate change easily because they are confident and open enough to take a leap of faith when it’s needed, know when to ask for help, and who can support them.
Aren’t these typical behaviours of a good leader? Emulate them and shift your mindset from observer to change maker!
What is the biggest change you had to go through? Tell your story in the comments!