Change is constant. So become the change, before change changes you.
Change has and will always be disruptive. It is no longer about how you deal with the constant change surrounding you; you must become the change in order to succeed and lead in a disruptive and volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Stop waiting for the push to face change.
Change is an opportunity to develop a new reality: do you perceive it before it happens, or are you ignorant to it—preferring to wait until it hits home before taking action? People dislike or even fear change because they do not know what change is going to bring. Like it or not, change is happening, so why not embrace it? Hence, it is important to become the change before change changes you. How then do you prepare for change? Here are 5Cs to help you transition to positive change.
(1) Never Stay Too COMFORTABLE
Once, a snail entered a beverage bottle. It decided to stay put there since it was warm and cosy and there was food and shelter. The snail might have been comfortable, but it got bored after a while. When it decided to leave, it had grown too large to crawl out and got stuck in the bottle.
Fat and Happy. It is good to feel comfortable every now and then. But overstaying in your comfort zone makes you complacent. Are you in a comfortable place at work right now? Are you perfectly happy to remain in that same role? Do you believe that you can remain happy without doing anything else? Are you feeling comfortable because you fear the unknown or fear rocking the boat when things are good? If you answered yes to all these questions, you can remain where you are. But if you have answered no to even one of them, then it is time to move out of your comfort zone and take action.
Continuous Learning. Change is always uncomfortable but there can be no progress nor growth without it. New age leaders ensure that they are constantly pushing themselves to grow through continuous learning. They keep chasing better versions of themselves to keep up with work-life demands. When was the last time you attended a training programme based on your own initiative and paid for it out of your own pocket? Continuous learning only happens when you are committed to grow. Just like coaching: we do not coach people who were asked to be coached. Coaching is only helpful when individuals desire to change for the better. We cannot stop growing, so why stop learning?
(2) Always be CURIOUS
Look at a tortoise and you may be inclined to think that it likes hiding inside its shell. However, flip this idea around and it could mean that tortoises are curious whenever they stick their heads out to survey their surroundings. They want to know what goes on so that they can better plan for what is coming.
Awareness. Being curious is to always be alert and aware of your surroundings. Be observant and make it a habit to understand what goes on and why things happen. Keep an open mind to learn from both successes and failures. One thing is you want to be informed; not noisy. Be childlike in your curiosity.
Reach out. When was the last time you volunteered for a company project? Do you wait to be invited or do you reach out and get involved? Staying under the radar must never be an option. How hard you work does not matter if you are unnoticed. Reaching out enhances your presence with the people who are stepping up to make a difference. Your voice and contribution are important if you want to be part of progress.
(3) Stay CONNECTED at All Times
Ants are constantly connected to their peers. They work together to achieve common goals. Their chain of actions may get disrupted or broken now and then, but they always get back together, and continue working towards their goals.
Networking. It is not what you know and who you know, but who knows you that matters. How are you building your personal brand? Do you frequently attend networking events to establish new contacts and relationships? To prepare yourself for change, you need to constantly put yourself out there to meet new people and explore new opportunities for collaboration. What about those of us who are shy or introverted? My advice is to start small and take baby steps. First, attend as many events that are relevant to your personal and business growth as possible. If you are alone, seek out individuals who are also attending the event alone. For all you know, they may wish to network too but may have difficulty approaching strangers. Make that change and be the first to act.
Collaboration. As the saying goes: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. It is impossible to succeed alone. Everybody needs somebody. The extent of your connectivity with the people around you can make a difference to your personal and career progression. Meeting someone new is great. What you do with the new friendship is key to greater growth. Whenever you meet someone, start thinking about how you can collaborate with them. How do you turn every opportunity into a reality? Does he/she need something you have that can be helpful? Are you the influencer to his/her needs or vice-versa? The ability to influence and link people, is one of the key essentials to building successful future collaborations and partnerships.
(4) CONSCIOUS Decision-making
How badly do you want to win? When was the last time you were in a difficult position of having to make a conscious decision about a work issue that could potentially affect yours and the company’s code of conduct? Leaders face huge temptations to get things done—sometimes at the expense of personal integrity and the company’s code of ethics.
Ethics. Are we supposed to change our moral duty and obligations? Someone once replied: “It depends”. The correct answer must always be ‘no’. Walking the talk in doing good is key to leadership sustainability. People follow you because they see you as an exemplary leader. No one with an unethical code of conduct and who uses people as stepping stones to get ahead will ever earn the respect of others.
Integrity. Choosing between doing things right versus doing the right things should never pose a dilemma for leaders. The decision-making ability of leaders must be conscious and clear. Do not change just because someone else says so. In view of wanting to be included, many leaders feel compelled to do what internal and external stakeholders want, instead of doing the right things. Leader sustainability requires you to be mindful and change only on rightful terms that do not compromise the ethic and integrity of how you lead.
(5) CARPING Not Allowed
If you are not updated, you will be outdated. There is no point in complaining or whining if you are doing nothing to change. Change is constant. So make the best of all changes that come your way.
Actions. With every challenge, comes an opportunity for you to make the right choice. Change happens when you take action. It does not have to be a major, earth-shattering action but sure and intentional daily steps toward your goals. Do not wait for change to happen before you take action. It will be too late and you will simply be following, instead of leading.
Be Prepared. Are you ready for change now? Landing that leadership role is only the beginning. According to Dr John Maxwell’s book The 5 Levels of Leadership, you need to become a change leader knowing why and how people will follow you. Are you prepared to lead because you have the rights? Are you preparing yourself to lead because of the relationships you build with your people? Is it because of the results you are going to show? Is it in your ability to reproduce high quality leaders and earn the respect of your people? It is time to prepare yourself for change at each level of this leadership journey. Take control of your life and be the change, before change changes you.
First published on Today’s Manager Magazine / Copyright © 2019 Singapore Institute of Management