How to Create Change Through Leadership

Introduction

Everyone possesses the power to create change in the world but not many believe to possess this power.

You may think that there are things in life that one cannot change.

I agree.

However, most things and rules are created by humans and what humans created in the past can certainly be changed again.

Without this belief, you cannot create change.

If you have the belief that you are able to make a difference, then congratulations.

You are amongst the very few.

But without taking considered action, nothing will ever happen.

To illustrate how to create change, I describe a six step change process, briefly outlined below, that I used to help residents in my apartment building to solve a severe problem with our onsite launderette.

1. Become aware of a problem that you share with others

First, it is important that you become aware of a problem that you share with others.

You cannot create considerable change if only you experience a problem.

I am connected with most residents in my apartment building through a WhatsApp group.

Throughout the year I read many complaints about the experience with our onsite launderette.

After I also experienced several times that the washing machines leaked dirt and ruined my clothes, I knew that this problem had to be fixed.

There was a problem that I shared with others.

2. Communicate the problem with individuals who hold responsibility

Once you become aware of a problem that you share with others, you need find out why it is not solved yet.

If it is a recent problem, then contact the individuals who hold the responsibility to fix it.

For example, I contacted our concierges.

They explained that the onsite launderette is managed by an external company, so I reached out to them and explained several times the problem.

Unfortunately, the issue was not properly addressed.

If this would happen to you, then this is the moment when you have to decide whether you want to give up or step up your game.

3. Create a movement by appealing to a higher cause

When you cannot create the desired change by yourself, then you may have to create a movement.

For example, you can do this through the creation of an online petition.

Appeal to a higher cause, such as fairness, respect, equality, dignity, or autonomy (FREDA) and write engaging content to collect signatures.

I started a petition on Change.org and created a compelling story to engage the readers and to make them sign the online petition.

It was a matter of fairness and respect to me as the onsite launderette charged us money without delivering their promised service and also ruined our clothes.

I felt a sense of responsibility to improve the living conditions of the residents in my apartment building.

When I created a compelling story, I shared the petition in our WhatsApp group, printed flyers with links to the online petition, and distributed them throughout the apartment building.

Soon, I gathered more than 30 signatures.

4. Recontact the individuals who hold responsibility

After you created an initial movement and can show that others also care about the problem, you have to contact again the individuals who hold responsibility.

At this point, you will win their attention as they realise the magnitude of the matter.

The regional account manager of the external firm organised a meeting with me and we discussed the problem with the onsite laundrette.

She promised to make this issue a priority and to solve the problem within a short timeframe.

I admired her determination.

However, I specifically asked how and by when the issue would be fixed and also mentioned my BATNA.

5. Know your BATNA

BATNA is a term coined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 bestseller, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In.

It stands for Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.

If the external company would not have taken action, I would have created a new compelling campaign to urge the residents to boycott the onsite laundrette.

I also mentioned to contact local newspapers to create awareness about the problem with the external company who manages several onsite launderettes throughout the United Kingdom.

I can be very bold sometimes, especially if fairness and respect is impaired.

I was certain that they did not want bad publicity and I used this BATNA to create pressure, and ultimately, the desired change.

Earlier this week, the old washing machines were replaced by new ones and I am very happy that I was able to help the residents in my apartment building by preventing further damages to their clothes.

It was a time consuming process and tough to combine it with all my other commitments.

However, I liked the challenge and to experience how leadership can create change.

6. Communicate the progress and outcome within your community or organisation

Lastly, I believe that it is important to periodically communicate the progress and the final outcome with your supporters.

People want to see the benefit of having invested their time and trust in you.

Share the victory with your supporters because after all, it is their victory as well.

Conclusion

Follow the above six steps to create change in your community or organisation.

Believe that you possess the power to create change in the world and then, take considered action.

Think it through and be the leader who takes responsibility when others complain or make excuses.

Finally, if you want to read more about change management, then I recommend the book Leading Change by John P. Kotter, which is probably the best book you can find on this subject.

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