Once Upon a Time: A Chapter on Corporate Change

You must be the change you want to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

The whispering at the water cooler. The venting during lunch with colleagues. The justifications people use for showing up late or sneaking out early. The rants we subject our family and friends to after a long day at work. They're all reflective of frustrations with our jobs, co-workers, bosses or even the company itself. They impact our productivity and the company's bottomline. Leaving the company isn't always an option. Plus, we've found out during prior career moves that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Now given that you spend the majority of your day confined to that job or company that causes you the frustrations, what alternatives do you have?

How about following Gandhi's advice and committing to become the change you want to see in your company? Yes, it's easy to get caught up in the fact that we think our company should follow certain standards or support us in a way we believe it should. Plus, in my consulting and training work, I hear people complain that leadership won't listen to them. However, this thinking keeps us stuck in the problem. I firmly believe that we should come armed with solutions - that's what gets leadership's attention. Most executives and managers that I've dealt with indicate that employees will tell them everything that is wrong within an organization, but not come to the table with actionable and researched ways to improve processes or functions. So, shouldn't that be a challenge for you to become a catalyst for change within your organization?

Imagine then if you will that you're just like the heroines or heroes in the fairytales that we all love. They were able to lead change from the ground up versus the top down. They displayed courage and were willing to take a stance for what they believed in. I would encourage you to become storytellers within your organization to help facilitate change and motivate people. Here are a few of the morals to help you craft your own stories:

  1. You can overcome adversity. A lot of fairytales portray negative situations that the hero or heroine has to overcome. Cinderella was destined to be a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. She, however, went behind their back and enlisted the help of her fairy godmother to fulfill the dream of attending the ball. What new story do you want to create then within your own company? Look for creative ways to challenge the status quo and enlist people who are committed to making things happen.
  2. You need to apply savoir faire. One common theme in fairytales is that the heroines literally "know how to do", i.e. respond appropriately to any situation. If you take Puss in Boots as an example, he was an industrious character who was savvy in his approach (plus he knew how to dress!). Sometimes you will need to apply uncommon wisdom in how you formulate your recommendations and action plan for implementing change. Having the confidence in yourself to come up with the right answers is also absolutely key.
  3. You can use enchantments. No, we're not speaking of the witchy curses placed on others. We're focused on your ability to be able to predict behaviors and patterns to understand others. A great example is the Three Little Pigs tale. The third pig was able to postpone his desire to play, and instead act in line with his ability to foresee what might happen in the future. He knew what the wolf was up to. You can use this great skill to see how others will respond positively or resist changes you're recommending for implementation.
  4. You need a dream team. Snow White knew that the seven dwarves had her best interest in mind. They protected and guided her. The same applies to anyone who is looking to serve as a change agent within an organization. You can't do it on your own. Recruit a team that brings a variety of skills to the table like the seven dwarves did. Rely on them to be your messengers and implementers. Take it from Snow White's lead though, you will want people who hold the same vision for your initiative as you do.

We sometimes get so stuck in our discontent with what is going on within our company that we forget about bringing creative solutions and taking fun approaches to introducing change initiatives. Taking a childlike approach and borrowing from our childhood fairytale heroes can sometimes give us a creative edge if we allow ourselves to focus on new possibilities. So, be daring and become a catalyst for change in your company.

Are you a leader looking to influence and inspire your team? Learn why you first need a solid personal mission to help you rally your team and mobilize your stakeholders in my book The Impactful Leader.