There’s a reason that real-deal change leaders are so valuable: there’s often not many of them, at least initially, inside organizations. Within the context of a change effort, that’s all well and good…at first.
You see, often meaningful change begins in the hearts or minds (and preferably both) of an individual or two, maybe even a small handful. However, it’s impossible for a legit change to take place and be sustained if only a couple of folks are passionate about it and committed to it.
In successful change efforts, the group of change leaders should grow over time. Without that group gaining mass and momentum, nothing much worthwhile is going to happen.
A lot of people will tell you that significant change can’t happen without the CEO leading the charge (not just passively “supporting” the change), and they’d be right; but it goes much further than that. Others from throughout the organization have to come together and develop a shared zeal for the change. Together, they have to be committed to helping make the change happen.
So you see, this is why people with the ability to see where an organization can go and the guts to work to make it happen are so very valuable to an organization. If you’re one of those, keep on keeping on. And if you’re not necessarily wired that way, find people who are attempting to lead change you believe in and figure out how to lend your unique skills and abilities to the effort.
From an organizational perspective, we ought to be looking for the folks that are leading change, initiating things, and pushing us all to be what we could become. It’s those people who are undoubtedly some of our organizations’ greatest assets. Frankly, the future of your organization just might depend on them doing their thing. So encourage the catalysts. Give them room. If you empower them in meaningful ways it’s far more likely they’ll do meaningful work.
As organizations, we need to understand that they just might make a dent in the universe if we let them. And even if we don’t let them, they’ll probably do it anyway–just not with our organization. We have to realize that people like that are too valuable to waste, and that if we do waste them, we shouldn’t be surprised if they long to go where that value is appreciated.