This week I felt powerless in affecting change in the organization. So, when I was invited on a field trip to the petting zoo yesterday to help with a video shoot for a cool project, I definitely said ‘yes’ to the mini escape. Petting cute baby goats with little kids around was tritely therapeutic. Standing in the goat pen in the fresh air was a welcome contrast from sitting in a stale office, where my frustration at the (slow) pace of change was aggravated by being tethered to my desk more than is usually the case.
Juxtapositions are good for flash of insights. I realized that I’ve been as silly as a baby goat this week, and just as prone to butting heads. In other words, I was a bit juvenile in how I tried to incite change.
Well, maybe I’m being slightly hard on myself–some things worked well, some didn’t. I’ve noted some reminders for myself for being the change agent I hope to be:
- If your moral compass tells you that the battle is right, move forward–even though you might lose.
- Be nice. Respect everyone in the organization, because everyone is doing the best they can given their circumstance. Everyone is working within constraints–keep that in mind when considering people’s decision-making processes and behaviours. Don’t fight them, fight the system and the culture.
- Timing is important in actioning the next move in the battle. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. I have a collection of little battles, so I should press pause on one if it’s not the right time, and focus my energies on another.
- When deciding how to fight the battle, determine whether there is a way to move things forward in a less adversarial manner, one that would reduce tensions and the uncomfortableness that change inevitably causes. Only up the ante if it’s needed, because doing so is risky, and there are only so many get out of jail free cards.
- Try to not shoot your team in the foot. It hurts and doesn’t make sense.
- Cheerleaders are critical for success and sanity. Seek support from other colleagues and change agents. It tends to work better when a few (or more) people have your back. It works really well to lead change acting by proxy, rather than acting alone.
- Get insight from your mentor(s) on the best course of action. Genuinely being open to advice is really important. (On a side note, some super mentors both provide advice and cover your back–in this case, be sure to focus on and draw out the advice, because good advice is harder to come by than pompom waving, as important as pompom waving is).
- Forgive yourself when you mess up, learn your lessons, and move forward…hopefully with a little more wisdom.
And btw Nick Charney–I’ve been thinking about your post as well, on the age old question. I think that the difference between me and those who have reached the Executive ranks is that they’ve already figured out most of this stuff, and it now comes second nature to them. Experience is not just about knowledge and good ideas. It’s about knowing how to be a leader and the ability to get a lot of people onside, juggling all the battles just right. Individuals who’ve been around longer tend to have a better idea of how to do this. I’m still figuring it out (and I suspect that maybe this might be the case for other under 30s).
Yes. I’m still a kid in this game.