Leaders, Leading Change Within Yourself Changes Everything

Picture a frustrating situation and wanting it to change. Perhaps it’s something an employee or colleague is doing. Perhaps the teams you are leading are not performing well. It could even be a neighbor or family member who is driving you crazy. A coach advises you to:

Lead change from within yourself and you will change everything.

What is your reaction to this? Do you think you have to give up who you are and become someone else? It isn’t true. Moreover, the idea of changing who you are can often intensify your resistance, even subconsciously, and block success.

Instead consider Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object in motion stays in motion until acted upon by an outside force. Whatever is occurring that frustrates you will continue to occur until you do something different that will change the current course.

Leaders, Leading Change Within Yourself Changes Everything Image by:MikeCogh

Image by: MikeCogh via Creative Commons License

Leaders, Leading Change Within Yourself Changes Everything

Leading change from within shows others your authentic passion for changing the current situation that frustrates you. If you continue on in the same manner, you are telling others with your actions that the current course is OK — regardless of any verbal comments or objections you make.

Change one of your behaviors or reactions and watch the course of motion change. Your behavioral change changes the momentum of others’ actions, their impact, and the course going forward.

  • Actions from within yourself speak louder than words. Words don’t impact everyone. Actions do. When words and actions align, the impact is tremendous. This doesn’t mean leveling and carrying out threats against others. It does mean that if you want something to change and you do nothing differently yourself, little will change.

  • Help others to see impact of their actions by the actions you take from within yourself. There are many people that become aware of their impact on others only when they see the outcome. I have witnessed many. They are either not intuitive, focus only on the present moment, or have developed a detachment from others for various reasons. They connect into effects and outcomes only when those effects are visible.

  • Assess, think, and then act. Assessing the situation and thinking of options are valuable first steps. They lose their value when you don’t act on them. Too much analysis morphs into paralysis and tells others that the current situation is acceptable to you. Even if after considering the options you decide no action is warranted, then at least change your reaction. If it isn’t important, let go of the frustration. Move on to more important matters. If the frustration persists, get active again to change it!

  • Think of the risk of not changing. Perhaps the toughest aspect of taking a different action is the comfort of the known. It lures all into an exaggerated view of the unknown. Those who move past this block do it by thinking of the risk of not changing behavior. They then take well founded steps to create the future and uncover the truth about it.

  • Take accountable steps and make your words come to life. A customer support center leader had one agent who was shirking responsibilities for taking calls and instead, did emails. This had a tremendous impact on the call queue, the other agents, and customer satisfaction regarding hold times. After many discussions with this agent and no change, the leader removed the agent’s access to the email queue. The leader was uncomfortable doing it because it wasn’t her natural style yet she proceeded. She took accountable steps that made her previous words come to life.

    She explained to the agent that this action was necessary to improve performance. The impact on the center’s satisfaction ratings was measurable. One small change in the leader’s behavior, created a different course of action for the agent, the center, and the customers. The agent, although not initially happy, eventually admitted that she needed that type of restriction in order to change her behavior and focus on the calls.

Ask yourself, do you really want to change things or do you just want things to change? Be accountable for your words by changing your actions. Leading change changes everything. Else your message to others actually is, everything’s OK the way it is.

Question: What current situation is stopping you and your teams from moving forward? I welcome your comments below or your emails for a private response.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

©2012-2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email info@katenasser.com. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

8 Responses to “Leaders, Leading Change Within Yourself Changes Everything”

  1. Al Smith says:

    This is Fantastic Kate. So many leaders want to “tell everyone else” what to do and how to change. Change starts from within. Be an example. Ghandi’s famous quote says it best;
    “Be the change you want to see in the world”
    Maybe management and leaders can just shoot for the “office” instead of the world.

    Thanks again and take CARE.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Al,
      Change truly does start from within and has a positive domino effect that circles back around to those who initiate it within themselves. In the end, it becomes a tremendous fusion of learning.

      Thank you!

  2. Ajmanik says:

    Your “Assess, think, then act” mirrors a Karate philosophy ~ “catch a look, set your feet or foundation, then move.” The order of those three is extremely important – it can be a matter of life and death. In life and in leadership.

    Thank you for the great reminder to be the change. Namaste 🙂


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Very interesting Kumud that this basic philosophy can also save your life. Many thanks for expanding our view of it and teaching us a bit of karate!


  3. I agree with Al, Kate. This is a fantastic post, one I hope you follow up with additional insights and suggestions. People assume that change begins with action, but you’ve moved the starting point back where it truly is, to the mind and heart of the leader who risks themselves to create meaningful change. And when I say “risks themselves,” I mean risks being in conflict, being wrong, being embarrassed, risks — in essence — not just their reputation but also what they might do to themselves through self-judgment. The real risk is looking in the mirror and saying to themselves, “what I did was graceless and awkward” or “confusing” or “wrong.” As you say, action oriented leaders carefully assess the risk of not acting, and what that brings, too.

    There is, I believe, something else leaders do to move themselves into and through the risk, and that is to hold a very powerful vision of what they want from their own leadership. That vision of themselves is a matter of growth and also enables a person to face risk and pain. I may know I want to be the leader who has the capacity to be bold, for example, but I also know I can talk myself out of boldness, if too much risk is involved. When situations arise where boldness is an issue, I feel them and I become especially attuned to the opportunity to “become my true self.” Leaders are the people who do not let such felt opportunities pass by, and who are willing to endure the risk of failing in order to learn how to become exactly who they are meant to be. The same is true for other qualities, such as being really attuned to others’ worlds, being generous, building trust, operating ethically. If I know what I want from my leadership in order to become that true self, perhaps focusing on only one or two such qualities, I become especially sensitive to the moments when opportunities arise — and I act, as a matter of commitment to growth based on the vision of leadership. Such small moves, I believe, are what “authenticity” is made from.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Dan,
      As always your deep insights bring all to a greater understanding of any subject. I especially like your focus on: “I mean risks being in conflict, being wrong, being embarrassed, risks — in essence — not just their reputation but also what they might do to themselves through self-judgment.”

      Great leaders assess risks not in an exaggerated way but in a way that brings balance and a greater chance of success to any challenge.

      Many thanks,

  4. Jenny says:

    Very true, excellent post!

  5. […] Kate Nasser asked a compelling question the other day that I think applies here:  “do you really want to change things or do you just want things to change?” […]

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