To be a young professional in today’s world is to be in a constant state of change. With the influx of new technology, competition in the global economy, and pressure to do more with less, Millennials are often hired with the hope they will bring energy, innovation, and new skillsets. These qualities can be finite resources, and after being tapped-out in entry-level roles, many want to be more prepared the next time they have to adapt to organizational change. How can such “emerging leaders” anticipate, adapt, and cope with change in a way that benefits the organization and doesn’t leave them feeling overwhelmed, or worse, burnt out? Here are thoughts on the matter shared by Emily Wolfkiel, a mid-20s new Human Resource professional – I found her perspective enlightening and relevant, and I trust you will too, as we seek to engage “leaders at every level” in our constantly changing organizations:
For emerging leaders in entry-level or mid-level positions, the need to weather organizational change can be frustrating and exhausting. We are usually not involved in the conversations that led to organizational change, as change often happens from the top-down. This can lead to feeling out of control and disempowered. How empowering it is, then, to learn more about Change Intelligence, specifically how each of us can leverage our technical abilities, behaviors, and awareness in order to weather change successfully. This tool is invaluable for new professionals and emerging leaders who may ask themselves if they can make a difference in their organization.
I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. As an emerging leader looking to break into the corporate world, I was excited to have the opportunity to take the Change Intelligence/CQ Assessment to learn more about myself. According to Dr. Trautlein, Change Intelligence is defined as “the awareness of one’s own style of leading change, and the ability to adapt this style to be effective in leading change across various people and situations.” For me, awareness has always been a foundational component to successful leadership: it can be the difference between anticipating and falling behind. Being able to leverage this information and adapt to evolving circumstances is crucial at all levels of leadership, even down to entry-level professionals.
The assessment was quick and intuitive, though I did have trouble relating to some questions that assumed I was involved in higher-level conversations regarding the change. I did my best to translate my entry-level experience to be more relevant to the questions asked, and found that it worked fairly well.
My results described my change leader style as a “Facilitator.” This means that I “emphasize both task and process, making the change happen and caring about how it happens.” I encourage others to do excellent work, and use listening skills to resolve differences. As an emerging professional, it makes sense that I value how the change happens; I care about the real impact of the number of hours I spend at work each day, how productive I feel and am, and how in control of my day I feel. Negative experiences in these areas quickly add up and contribute to cynicism, apathy, and frustration.
I learned that Facilitators and other “high Heart” leaders may sometimes struggle with boundaries, letting the burden of the emotional toll of change fall to them by listening and engaging too much. I also learned that there are a few strategies that can counteract this. First, it can be helpful to partner with others who have a different style in order to balance one another. Second, one can build muscle in this area with the awareness of potential pitfalls. And third, one can implement systems and structures to mitigate any lasting negative effects of their particular style.
Overall, Change Intelligence builds critical awareness of one’s strengths and limitations when it comes to organizational change. Employees at all levels can benefit from this awareness in order to increase the likelihood of creating change that sticks, for the benefit of the organization and for the individuals who depend on its success. I’m currently enrolled in the CQ Certification Program, and am looking forward to applying my learnings in my new role as an HR professional for the betterment of my team and company.
Are you an emerging leader – or do you work with one – and would like to test-drive the CQ Assessment like Emily did? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention this offer! For more information about CQ, visit staging.changecatalysts.com to download two free chapters of the best-selling book Change Intelligence: Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change that Sticks, watch video and listen to audio, and download tips and tools for yourself, your team, and your organization.