Leaders as Change Agents

Change is a constant, but the past two years have put that adage on steroids. The pace of change has been unprecedented. While change places stress on everyone, middle managers are impacted the hardest. They need to translate issues from administration to the frontline associates and vice versa. And all the while keeping the department running and the lines of communication open and being a change agent. It isn’t easy. At times the pace of change has been frantic, making it difficult to build understanding and ultimately buy-in among staff.

The Leader as a Change Agent

Leaders are change agents promoting and enabling new ways of doing things. With the pace of change, leaders must also be resilient to navigate the demands placed on them. There are eight resiliency-building skills for leaders:

  • Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention in the present.
  • Acceptance: When a problem arises, own what is happening to you.
  • Optimism: Resilient people see the positives in most situations and believe in their own strength.
  • Sense of Humor: People with emotional resilience can laugh at life’s difficulties and perceive issues as challenges rather than threats.
  • Empathy: Empathy builds our self-worth when we see ourselves and everyone around us as having value.
  • Internal Control: Resilient people believe that they are in control of their own lives.
  • Support: Resilient people know the value of social support, and they surround themselves with supportive friends and family.
  • Self-care: Taking care of yourself can be rest, reading, exercise, writing, or meditating.

In addition to building resilience in yourself, it’s vital to build resiliency muscles in your team. Try one or more of these to build resilience in the team:

Step 1

Get Connected. Research shows that the people that have the most connections do better mentally and physically when faced with a challenge. Consider who you need to reach out to on your team and connect with today.

Step 2

Focus on Meaning. Each workday, have team members share something they did that provided a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Ask each team member to set a small and achievable goal each day and determine why it matters to them. Be sure to ask about it during the next team meeting.

Step 3

Practice Acceptance. Collectively discuss facts and what is known. Accept what is. Encourage team members to own their emotions and feelings by identifying them. Resist the urge to place blame externally. Consider what good is already coming out of the scenario and what can be shared so others can learn and grow.

Step 4

Focus on What You Can Control/Influence. Identify what your team can control. This includes attitude, behaviors, emotions, and the decisions made in response to the problem. Having influence is the next best thing to having control. Although your team may not have full control over a group project, they can influence and affect its outcome by providing their opinion, support/advice, or asking to be included in meetings. Spend little time on what you can’t control.

Step 5

Agree to be Proactive. Agree as a team on how you will bring up topics or issues, rather than ignore them. Layout a plan together for addressing issues. Agreed upon plans for how to address challenges and difficulties provide a sense of calm and security.

Step 6

Practice Optimism. Encourage your team to look toward the future and practice gratitude. Ask: What are you proud or grateful for today? Allow for several shares.

Step 7

Pay Attention to Self-Care. Participate in team activities, sharing of hobbies, walking meetings, and other social connection events that the team would enjoy. Check in frequently on how people are doing with sleep and eating a healthful diet. Encourage good health and self-care by being a role model. 

Step 8

Use Humor. Any fun activity that your team can do that is inspiring – creates laughter and nourishes the soul and is a chance to ‘recharge’ the batteries. These important ‘time-outs’ for teams reduce the level of stress hormones and increase the levels of health-enhancing endorphins.

Above all, take time to recognize the changes you and your team have navigated. Give yourself kudos for what you have already done. It will give you confidence in your ability and prepare you to handle anything that comes your way as a change agent.

Continue to grow your leadership skills with our course, Be the Leader Nobody Wants to Leave, an eight-week virtual course designed for leaders at all levels. Learn more here, or contact us at (866) 686-7672 to learn about group training opportunities.

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