Career Success Happens By Embracing Change Leadership of Yourself

It doesn’t matter what position you hold in life, the more things change, the more you need to lead. Or you can become irrelevant.

Whether you like it or not, every thing in your life is changing.  The projects you’re working on are changing, either progressing or falling behind.  Your feelings about the work you’re engaged in changes, sometimes daily.  Your mind, body and every other aspect of your life.  Everything changes. 

Remember the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?  It’s basically an expression of a fact that over time, things change such that eventually they result in thermodynamic equilibrium. 

In our personal and professional lives you can apply the law like this:  don’t actively add energy to achieving goals and you’ll end up in equilibrium.  What’s that look like?  You’re the first person to be let go when lay offs happen or the person passed-over for promotion, or the one that finds it impossible to get hired. The more things change, the more you need to lead.

Change Leadership

Change leadership is about initiating or managing change.  These words are usually reserved for the corporate boardroom. However, you can take the role of change leader in your own life. 

What does it look like when you are leading change in your life? You have the ability to motivate and alert yourself of the need to enact specific changes to adapt to the way things are done when it’s necessary.

For example, your firm is facing a downturn in project opportunities in the program you work in. You adapt by  getting involved in other programs, even without compensation, so that when the ax swings you’re still standing.

Another example is to understand industry trends and getting in front of them.  For instance, the need for engineers  knowledgeable about sustainability and resiliency in systems is only to increase, however, you don’t know anything about these.  So you seek out continuing education and start reading voraciously to establish yourself as an expert. 

This is change leadership, of yourself, in action.

Setting Change into Action

What does setting change into motion look like?  Here are four elements of the change leader:

Supports the need for change

Creates their own plan for change

Personally engages in their change

Champion’s continuous change

Why It Matters

Because, you need to be engaged in determining what changes in your life, personally or professionally, or be relegated to the masses that take change as it comes.  Unfortunately, change usually comes in a flavor that’s not palatable.  But, only for the unprepared.

Organizations that didn’t embrace change lay strewn on the ground like a spilled box of cereal.  Kodak, GM, or Sony anyone?  Organizations need change leadership or they become irrelevant. 

No different, you need change leadership for yourself or you risk becoming irrelevant.  In a world of financial uncertainty, market upheavals, and diminishing project opportunities you can either be on the front edge of professional growth and increasing your competitive advantage, or you can stand by and watch someone else – the change leader – make it happen.

“Change is hard because people over estimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving it up.”  J. Belassco and R. Stayer

Christian Knutson, P.E., PMP is international infrastructure development program manager, engineer, and author. He has 21 years of experience in leadership, management, engineering and international relations earned from a career in the U.S. Air Force and is author of The Engineer Leader, a recognized blog on leadership and life success for engineers and professionals.

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