10 TACTICS TO BE A BETTER CHANGE AGENT
A change agent is someone who enables individuals, teams and organizations to make positive change; a skillset that has never been more needed than right now. Anyone can learn this skillset; change agents are not defined by a title, but by the outcomes they support others to achieve. In fact, the very best change agents often have little or no formal authority at all. If your success depends upon helping others to make positive change, then this short blog is for you.
There are countless tactics you can use to be an effective change agent, but in my 20+ years of practice, I have found the ten tactics below to be among the most important and impactful.
For a little extra motivation, you might like to rate yourself out of 10 on each tactic to get an overall score out of 100, and to figure out where your biggest opportunities are.
- Be a role model first and a preacher second; your ability to affect positive change in others derives largely from your congruence with your message. Make sure you’re a really good example of what you’re preaching before you offer advice to anyone else.
- Appeal to the heart first, then the head; people make decisions emotionally and then justify them with logic. Create an emotionally engaging story for change first, and then back it up with good data.
- Sell the problem, not the solution; before you offer solutions, run sessions or deploy tools and frameworks, make sure your audience is deeply aligned on the problem that you’re all trying to solve.
- Create a setting for success, without needing control; change is unpredictable so control is not possible. Agree compelling objectives and clear standards of behavior, then trust people to fill the space.
- Inspire hope not fear; make sure others have clear goals, pathways to achieve those goals, and understand how their effort makes a difference; a sense of agency is essential for others to change.
- Look for a helpful meaning; relentlessly challenge the negative assumptions of your audience. Offer alternative meanings that encourage them to empathize, suspend judgment and give others the ‘benefit of the doubt’.
- Be courageous and selfless; escalate to the real conversation; not to be tough, but because you really care. No matter how uncomfortable, respectfully tell others what they really need to know, not necessarily what they want to hear.
- Make a call to action; in a change process, trajectory is even more important than absolute outcomes. Once you understand the issue at hand, move others quickly to action. Focus on the next two or three things that can be done to build positive momentum.
- Leverage trust; trust is a prerequisite for change. To leverage it, ensure that you’re credible on the subject at hand, demonstrate that you’re reliable by delivering on your promises, and be crystal clear about your motives.
- Be in service, not subservience; to be subservient means taking orders and trying to please others; this is a path to irrelevance. To be in service is to be on purpose; to be humbly confident and respectfully fearless. It means you are above no one and beneath no one.
How did you score out of 100? Where are you strongest, and where are your biggest opportunities to improve?
I hope this blog helps you to become a more effective change agent, and to amplify your contribution to those you serve during this time of uncertainty.
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