[This is a two part series on being a change agent. This first part is the characteristics of being a good change agent.]
It is Sunday morning somewhere. And someone is frazzled after a long sleepless night where they are half afraid of making the wrong choice and the other half consumed by the implications of making the correct one.
In these situations, there are three real choices:
1. Accept the situation. Nothing changes and you have to grin and bear it. One becomes stuck in time where they are not moving things forwards or backwards. Health implications may arise. Robert E. Quinn talks about the "Slow Death Dilemma" because of the reluctance to deal with things.
Like American journalist Esther Wojcicki says, "The worst thing that you can do in life is whine about what you can't change."
2. Leave the situation. By doing this risks that things will be about the same or better. But there is the other scary possibility the situation becomes far worse
3. Shake up things by being a change agent.
Ask yourself this question:
If you are not going to try to improve the world now then when? The change agent sees no obstacles only unexpected gifts.
Why be a change agent?
I have been a serial change agent for most of my life. In each point in my career, I have left successfully the situation better than I found it.
This is what I said about being a change agent in my book Musings:
Being an “in the trenches” change agent is a huge risk. You are the pioneer who gets the arrows in the back. You have no official responsibility to do anything. People you don’t even know may yell and scream at you because they are frightened by your efforts. And if you succeed, others likely will take the credit and build on what you did.
But what about the rewards you may achieve?
These include the following:
- Making a real difference in the world by overcoming the conventional wisdom and changing something for the better.
- Personally bringing to the world happiness, increased productivity, and moving things forward.
- It is the greatest self-reward in the world for having done this.
- It gives you energy for undertaking the next major change.
- You will learn things about yourself and your capabilities that you did not know already.
Characteristics of a Change Agent
These are the behavior patterns of a successful change agent:
- Active Listener
- Good Communicator
- Can clearly explain the difference between the AS-IS (Current) and TO-BE (Future) environments.
- Empowers themselves to make needed changes.
- Works with the end in mind.
- Has a strong sense of commitment and incredible perseverance.
- Understands well their own strengths and weaknesses.
- A good facilitator
- A talented builder of ad hoc and permanent coalitions.
Characteristics of a Serial Change Agent.
The most involved change agents move from one situation to another doing what they can to improve the situation. Let's call them serial change agents. In addition to the above, they do the following:
- Have a strong sense of perseverance
- Ability to recharge on the fly
- Believes in the reverse of the Butterfly Effect -- if you want to change one thing, change everything.
- Uses some of the techniques learned from previous change efforts.
- Dynamically learns and adjusts.
I would love to see conversations spring forth on being a change agent in and outside CA.
I want to hear more what you have accomplished after seeing a need for improvement.
You can reach me to discuss further at firstname.lastname@example.org
Next time, I will talk about some of the things that I have done as an APM change agent.
http://www.inc.com/magazine/201510/jeff-bercovici/the-dna-whisperer.html Where the no obstacles and the Esther Wojcicki quote came from
Quinn, Robert E. Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. New York:Jossey Bass 1996 Print. My favorite book on the subject.
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/399500 Musings. Includes my very incomplete look at this area.