Rita Mallius: Why are others more important in change than you?

There are countless good tips for leading change successfully. Researched and unresearched information on how to create understanding; build trust and vision; manage change resistance; involve and commit; crystallize and communicate; educate and assist; and empower…

Personally, I was looking for that one idea that would bring these important points together and as a simple principle guide the change leader to make right decisions that will drive the change. As a sum of experience, heard wisdoms and memorized adages, it finally became clear and thus I claim on CCEA’s website that “At the core of change, you must learn to be there for others, not for yourself”. The message is reassuring, or it might be chewing up your ego, depending on whether you look at it from the perspective of a person going through the change, a person who defined the need for the change or a person who is implementing the change.

Being there for others is not easy. Not in everyday life, in relationships, nor during a change. We have a natural tendency to focus on our own needs. Above all, the idea of being there for others provides an opportunity for a genuine dialogue: listening, understanding and asking questions – without immediate appreciation.

This, in turn, is a prerequisite for “those others” to understand you, to commit to your goals, and to be able to find a direction in the change they want to be a part of. Or they may not find it, which itself is often a valuable observation on a need to revaluate the direction of the change.

For the simple principle to guide your decisions, you need to make it a part of your daily routine. So, before you downplay questions about the change because you find them irrelevant, you skip the contrarian’s criticism because you find it unnecessary, you don’t communicate because you are already tired of your message, you assume others already know and understand, you skip the engaging activities from your plan because you are too busy and you trust your own vision 100% – stop and put your own experience aside for a moment. Think about whether you are making your decisions for others or for yourself?

Implementing change is about determinedly pushing forward and sometimes dragging after. But most of all, it is about serving and helping others, and getting them involved. Although the change leader is often alone in the beginning, it is essential to be able to give up the loner role. When the need for change has been identified and the direction at vision level is clear, it is time to turn your gaze away from yourself. Sometimes it takes hard work, and you need to keep going back to the same question over and over again: “Am I really making my decisions for others?”.