Executive Coaching Articles

Change Leaders
Turning Adversity into Advantage

Joel helped me learn how to enhance my leadership potential and be recognized by top management for the value I bring to the organization.

Debra Waggoner, Director, Global Government Affairs,Corning Incorporated

One certainty in life is that the future holds unpredictable changes. We start every day not knowing exactly what to expect. Life brings lessons and opportunities that we don’t always welcome. It forces us to take risks, become vulnerable, and open ourselves to the unknown.

If you can rise above your fears, you might become the special individual we’re all waiting for. View change as a good thing. Beyond every corner is a new opportunity waiting to be discovered. It’s easy to do things the way they’ve always been done. But to develop and use the visionary leadership mindset demands consistent outside-the-box thinking.

But how do you make a change when you have mortgages, kids, busy careers, and far too much to do throughout your days, weeks, and months? In order to make a change, you must lead your own change. This is done by becoming what I call a change leader.

Great leaders turn adversity into advantage. They recognize that someone must take charge and make the decisions. Strategy is planned and a course of action is begun to achieve change because of that person. It’s essential to your future to become your own change leader.

People can make changes without being change leaders, but long-term benefits are gained when you have courage to transform your attitude toward change from one of timidity and resistance to one of strength and appreciation for the opportunity to make your life better. Now you can take an active role and manage and direct it, to change your views of life from one of struggling to maintain the status quo to always looking for new opportunities and viewing change as a positive force.

All change leaders have this unique quality within them. Change becomes easier when you see it not as a mountain that seems too high, but as a gentle slope. In the journey of life, each step takes you gradually closer to achieving your goals.

What are some of the fears that keep you in your current circumstances instead of changing? The fundamental thing you need to do to make a change is to conquer your fears of the unknown or unfamiliar.

Becoming a change leader begins by evaluating your life now. Do this by recognizing where you are and identifying what areas need to change in order to improve your life. Remember that great leaders turn adversity into advantage. Acknowledge that you can’t change everything at once. What you can do is choose an area to work on and take concrete steps, all the while being alert to opportunities to change in other areas you have identified. Mahatmas Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

Steps to Becoming a Change Leader

  1. Create tomorrow, don’t maintain yesterday. Anything that doesn’t support what is most important to you needs to be abandoned. The focus must be on creating a tomorrow that you most want.
  2. See your challenges as opportunities. Welcome unexpected difficulties because they represent opportunities to make something better. This process isn’t an easy one.
  3. Be willing to risk. People are used to maintaining the status quo rather than making changes. Taking risks is about becoming what you most want for yourself. It’s important to know that when we risk, we are moving out of our comfort zone to a place that feels like an unknown.
  4. Focus on successes and opportunities versus problems. Problems can’t be ignored, but it’s vital to focus on the opportunities that you’ll be attracting in your life as you move toward your dreams. View problems in the context of the larger vision you have for your life, and they become less important. Also, take note of the successes you’ve had as you move forward on this change journey so you will feel excited about what you’ve gained and accomplished along the way. By taking small steps with each success, you begin to make a major fundamental change.
  5. Use resources wisely. A resource comes in such forms as energy, money, and time. Let go of any activities that won’t move you toward the change you most desire. The question to ask is, “If I am to focus my resources on what is most important, will I do this activity?” If the answer is no, spend your resources on an activity that does advance your goals. Always question how best you can use your resources in each minute of your day.
  6. Imagine new possibilities. Begin to acknowledge the new and exciting opportunities that lie ahead. Don’t neglect this part of yourself. When you honor the new, exciting, and powerful possibilities that are within your life, everything has a way of supporting, co-operating, and assisting you towards the possibility.
  7. Take action today for what you want tomorrow. Taking action is about embracing the concepts of discipline, motivation and perseverance. It’s not easy to stay focused and in pursuit of what you want. When you are taking action, your steps should be specific, achievable, realistic, and timely.