Do You Have The Courage To Change?
If there’s one constant to doing business in today’s global environment, it’s that things inevitably change.
Of course, when it comes to change in today’s organizations, more often than not it’s sorted into one of two boxes — change that drives our efforts towards innovation, or change that we have to manage in response to fluid conditions in our market space.
In my work, I get many leaders who want to discuss the latter condition — of how to manage change that comes with the changing needs of your customers, the changing needs of what you need to attract and retain employees, and the changing needs of how you’re supposed to lead in an increasingly multi-generational and diverse workforce.
In many of these conversations, it becomes clear that what these leaders are after is a playbook — a straightforward, step-by-step process of how to get through this “change initiative” quickly, so that they can shift their focus back to the work that they view as being ‘the real and important work’.
But change is not simply another item on your To-Do list. Indeed, dealing with change is more than a process; it’s an on-going journey of exploration and discovery.
This is that roadblock that impedes so many of us from taking those critical first steps in this journey of change. As there’s no guaranteed notion of what awaits us, how can we be sure it’s worth opening the door to see what’s on the other side?
As such, the question we face is do we have the courage to change, not just today, but as we move forward? Will we treat change not merely as something we’re willing to do today, but as something we’ll embrace going forward as new realities sharpen into focus as we continue on our journey towards achieving our long-term goals?
Of course, sometimes we might not feel as though we have a choice, especially in those moments when our competitors suddenly upend conventions and change what others expect or demand from what we currently offer.
But the truth more often than not in those cases is that we intuitively knew — or at least suspected — that this change was headed our way. We just succumbed to our fear of the unknown by latching onto the familiar and safe, and consequently, opting to not do anything about it.
In fact, over the past few years we’ve all witnessed numerous examples of organizations that lacked the courage to take those necessary steps to change, despite seeing what lay ahead if they insisted on staying on their current course.
That’s why it takes courage to change, not simply because we’re moving outside our comfort zone, but because where this change might lead us is not always a clear path or an anchored destination somewhere in the near future.
Indeed, change is more a guide giving us a direction, allowing us to explore new insights and perspectives.
So make no mistake — it does take courage to change, which is why we celebrate and admire those who are willing to challenge the way things are. To seek a better way and a better future, both for those they lead today, and for those who may be impacted in the future by what we choose to do right now.
It’s why we gravitate towards those we identify as being the ‘rebels’ or the ‘change-makers’ or the ‘disruptors’. Each of them demonstrates that unyielding conviction and belief in their vision and purpose; of how this is what they were meant to do and who they were meant to become.
But while we may admire them from afar, we must never doubt that the ability, means, and opportunity exists for each of us to be our own version of that rebel, change-maker, or disruptor of the status-quo.
Granted, not all of us can be game-changers or people who change the world. But, honestly, there’s no reason to think that that’s the only kind of change that matters, as the potential exists in each of us to make a difference. To change what we do and how we see things to make things better for ourselves, and for those we lead.
When it comes to change, what we need to embrace as a key cornerstone in our leadership is that change should not be something that happens to us, but a driving force that challenges us to be better.
The fact is change is now very much a fixture in today’s workplaces, not only in terms of how we do business, but also in terms of who we lead and consequently, how we should lead if we are to tap into the very best of every person under our care.
We’ve seen over the past few years how some leaders have refused to change, holding fast to that notion that ‘this is the way things are done around here’ while pointing to their organization’s past successes. And we’ve seen how this kind of approach has lead many organizations to lose their dominance, or worse, end up as another example of a by-gone era.
Similarly, we’ve seen leaders who had that courage to take that leap into the unknown, confident not so much in where they might land, but in how the journey would open up new possibilities that would upend the status-quo, allowing them to become the front-runners of the pack.
Both these group of leaders share much in common with every other leader out there. They were no smarter or risk-adverse than you are right now. The only difference, really, was whether they had the courage to embrace change, or succumbed to their fears which clawed them back to a status-quo that would inevitably lead to their demise.
The truth is that while change is hard, it’s become critical to our ability to succeed and grow.
And so, the choice is yours as to whether you will summon the courage to change, or merely hope that today’s successes might somehow sustain your organization going forward in a world that refuses to stand still.