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The Best Method for Managing Change

By Kelly Rowan
Follow me on Twitter: @kellykay30

According to Minnesota’s most famous muse, the times, they are a-changin’.

Change. We all face it. Sometimes it sneaks up on you and turns your world upside down in the blink of an eye. Sometimes you run at it full steam ahead with anticipation and open arms. Sometimes you know it's imminent and lurking, but consciously or not, you avoid it. The status quo is a known entity. And change is, well, exactly the opposite. But that's the point, right?

Overcoming a fear of the unknown is a big challenge that came up persistently at last week's Emerging Leaders Network lunch, where managing change was the topic of conversation. We experience a myriad of emotional reactions to the prospect of change, and we must, as leaders, be in tune with those around us in order to move that needle from fear to optimism for new opportunities and stronger programs, organizations and communities.

There are plenty of solid how-to guides for managing change out there, whether you're a seasoned leader guiding your team through a major organizational or departmental change, or an emerging leader looking for ways to offer unique contributions to keep things moving ahead collaboratively. The plethora of best practices and evolving models for organizational development and leading adaptively through change provide enough fodder for entire degree programs, so how to begin to address this topic in a short, punchy blog post?

I'll boil it down to one of the single most valuable exercises we can practice to manage change well. My favorite thing to do when tackling any big, overwhelming topic or issue is... to pause.

It's not easy. We are always moving, always forging ahead, striving to improve ourselves, our organizations and our whole life balance. But pause, we must. I'm sure of it. Get our butts up on that balcony.

It's only by doing this—taking the time to pause and reflect—that we can be fully aware of what's happening around us. We'll also be much better at considering the tools we have in our toolboxes, bolstering up our strengths and making note of gaps that may need our attention. 

While it's true that we occasionally encounter truly large-scale change, the change in an organization's identity for example, the most prevalent change I see us faced with is the increasing necessity to be more agile, nimble and flexible at our cores. We must be grounded in the constants, such as our values, and build up the infrastructure, systems and discipline to ensure we take the time to get our heads above the fray of our everyday activities to be adaptive leaders, from whatever position we find ourselves in.

What's been most helpful to you when effectively managing change?

Or let’s Do-It-Together: share a challenge you're facing head-on and let this network of smart change-makers and change-managers help you hammer out some solutions.

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