The thing about times of change…is that things change! Obvious I know, but still true. Based on what I have seen, when companies merge…change happens. New leaders take over and old leaders move on. Based on what I have experienced, new leaders and old leaders are always great leaders – the only difference is that new leaders will be leading us…old leaders will be leading somewhere else.
Change can be unsettling. Change can give us a sense of lack of control. But change can also be exciting, and change can give us a sense of opportunity. And depending on what role we currently have in an organisation, the impact of leadership change can either happen very quickly, or can take some time to materialise.
At times of change, I am frequently asked if I am surprised by events that happen. My answer is always yes…because it is true. The only time I’m not surprised is if I am the person making or taking a specific decision. Sometimes my answer may be more that surprise…I can be as amazed as anyone else.
In truth though, at times of change, it’s never a surprise that things do change. I can find myself surprised by the rate, or extent, of change – whether that be people, or teams, or goals, or ways of operating – but not by the change itself.
But what about opportunities at these times? There are always opportunities – personal and organisational – sometimes more or less apparent…or that appear more or less rapidly. But opportunities are always there. We just need to see them or have someone help show us.
I always try to identify opportunities and activities over which I feel I have maximum influence. Again – sounds obvious – but it is still a choice I make. The converse – seeking out opportunities or activities over which I have little influence – feels much less useful or helpful.
For example, whatever change happens, I have opportunity to make the maximum positive impact I can every day on people and projects – to partner with the people I work with…and to do the best work I can on the projects I am responsible for.
And change frequently gives us new people to work with…or for. Whether that be internal partners or external partners. And new people always inspire and excite me. I learn from people. Gain experience from people. And delight from meeting new people. All the best times I have at work involve other people.
Change frequently allows us to learn more; about ourselves, about our work, about our science, about others. Learning and growing always energises and engages me. All the best times I have at work involve learning and growing.
I work hard not to worry at times of change. Worry is one of the most unhelpful emotions (alongside guilt). Feeling worried, or feeling guilty, can be an internal cycle to nowhere. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments – we all do – but I work hard to focus on thinking and planning. What will I do next? What can I try? What would happen if?
And that thinking and planning is always more successful and rewarding if I involve others – friends or family or allies. I know I am at my best when I am working with others. Involving others always helps me. All the best times I have at work involve working with others.
So it is true that times of change can feel challenging, unsettling or even disempowering. But these times can also feel exciting, engaging and even energising.
All the best times I have at work are times of change.