Leading change begins with knowing what needs to change

Not everyone’s fond of change. It’s uncomfortable. It’s messy. And it’s unclear for the most part, until it isn’t. And one of the key attributes of leadership is the ability to create and influence positive change.

The people I get to interact with in my leadership development work are most the enthusiastic kind. They’re all keen to improve, change and turn around the things that are getting in the way of their progress. Some aspire to make drastic changes (or disrupt as they would like to put it) while some want to change small and often as prescribed by the Japanese philosophy of constant and never-ending improvement, Kaizen.

Now, all of that is great. But we’ve got one major problem — what needs to change or improved upon in the first place? If that got you (or froze your) thinking, you’re not alone. I’m almost always met with a ‘pin-drop’ silence after asking this question. You see, everyone likes the idea of change and improvement, they just don’t know where to begin with. And that’s a problem because talk is cheap.

I believe the first step towards meaningful change is identifying what needs changing. Once you do that, you can plan for the next steps. It’s the basics that matter the most. And here’s the best way to identify this:

If you’ve done something for one year — look at it carefully.
If you’ve done it for two years — look at it with suspicion.
If you’ve done it for five years — stop looking at it and do something to change it

— John Maxwell, Developing the Leader Within You 2.0

Of course, the statement above is just a guideline. I understand some challenges aren’t that straightforward but it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t change anything if you haven’t identified the change that needs to happen.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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