Being able to handle or even embrace change, learning and growing are crucial to being able to handle changing and challenging situations. Looking for ways to challenge the status quo and ways to improve both on a personal and corporate level has saved people and companies from stagnancy and an inability to adjust to shifting conditions. This is crucial because successful leaders are able to embrace change.
The top skills for learning how to embrace change are
- Dedicating time and energy to reflection and introspection. Personal growth and the ability to use all situations to your advantage requires thought and attention. Taking that time can make all the difference between treating something as a learning opportunity and a failure.
- Learn to adapt and commit to evolve in ways that benefit you and others. This applies to us personally and to our business. Kodak is an excellent example of a company that failed to adapt by ignoring the changes happening in the digital world. Hewlett-Packard is one of my favorite sucess stories. This article highlights them along with 4 others that looked ahead and rode the wave of new technology, etc.
- Staying curious and being willing to learn something new is another mark of the most successful adaptive leaders. This has never been easier with the resouces at our disposal. If you need convincing, here’s a site that lists 10 benefits of continual learning. My favorites – gain more confidence, reduce stress and you gain more power. Here’s a great site that links to other sites that offer free or relatively inexpensive training and educational videos.
To quote Albert Einstein, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We all know the problems of getting “stuck in a rut.” We are unable to change directions, adapt, and accomplish much of anything when we are immobilized. This is particularly harmful for leaders we depend on. History is full of failed companies with leaders who failed to embrace change, learn and grow with the times. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” can be one of the most debilitating phrases ever spoken. John Maxwell’s “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth” is a great primer to get you started. Here are some other methods you can use.
Increased Level of Competence
People have more respect for leaders that are skilled not just at leadership but their job or craft as well. Paying attention to what you might need to develop within yourself is the first step in the road to personal development. Perhaps you need to improve your craft. Perhaps you need to improve your leadership skills. Perhaps you need to stay current with new technology or trends. Then it entails not only being open to new information, but actively seeking it out.
Reading is one of the easiest ways to keep learning. This article by the Huffington Post details the reading habits of some of the most successful people. “Successful people…believe that books are a gateway to learning and knowledge.” Warren Buffett used to read 600-1000 pages a day and says he still spends 80% of his time reading. It has certainly benefitted him!
Training and Videos
There is a world of podcasts and YouTube videos at our disposal these days, in addition to being able to “Google” anything. Information has never been easier to access. There are webinars and trainings at our fingertips. Decide what you’d like to learn and either free or paid-for answers are available with a library, bookstore or internet connection.
How do you decide what you want to learn? One of my favorite suggestions from John Maxwell is to devote 10 minutes a day to thinking. He even advocates having a thinking chair with a pen and paper nearby. This is also a good place to do that reading we suggested. We often go through the day so focused on our to do list or immediate gratification that we don’t take the time to reflect in a way that really serves us. Taking the time to stop and think about what we want, examine our goals or brainstorm solutions to problems is an incredibly useful and overlooked tool. Having a morning or bedtime routine is a useful way to make sure that we consistently build this into our day.
Take some time to fully understand what your values are. Much like boxers use the ropes to stay within the ring, values help us get clear about what we consider most important. There are some useful worksheets to help figure out what your top values are. This one by Brene’ Brown works well. Circle the ones that ring true for you. Then narrow them down to 5 or 10. Then down to 3 to 5. These become your guideposts that help you stay true to yourself when you need to make difficult decisions.
Tools for Embracing Change
Be Willing to Take Risks
Change cannot happen without risking some form of failure. It’s how we respond to “failure” or mistakes that makes all the difference. Understanding that this is an opportunity for learning and growing, not a reason to beat up on ourselves or others, can lead to a deeper understanding of the issue and is simply the next step to finding the solution. Thomas Edison and his team made 1000 “mistakes” before they created a successful lightbulb. Looking at each of those 1000 attempts as just a way to get closer to the solution that worked enabled them to get to the end result. And even then, look at how the lightbulb continues to change over the years! Encouraging yourself and others to keep trying is the path to finding the solution.
Challenge the Status Quo
Innovation and improvements come out of taking the time and effort of looking at how you are doing things with fresh eyes. Creating an environment where people are encouraged to offer ideas and suggestions for alternate methods and processes can lead to transformations and enhancements that would have been missed otherwise. “This is the way we’ve always done it” is one of the most stifling approaches possible.
Getting fresh perspectives is one of the most useful tools for positive changes. Using surveys, suggestions boxes and assessments, both internal and external, can give you insights you would have missed otherwise. Brainstorming ideas with others, either advisors, clients/customers or staff can bring up possibilities rich with opportunities. Yes. It’s true that some of the feedback may be critical or at least less than flattering, but being able to take the input with openness is one of the best ways to fix issues you may or may not have even been aware of. Ignorance is not bliss when it’s having a negative impact. Successful leaders understand that the ability to embrace change has to be an ongoing and well developed skill set.