In Change, Leaders

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

One of the core responsibilities of leaders in the 21st century is to be agents of change. There are so many variables and so much chaos in the world that it sometimes seems that change is the only certainty left. If a business lacks a leader who actively drives & engages change, chances are that business won’t be around for long.

A lot of leaders out there have grasped this. Rarely do I visit with a business leader who doesn’t at least give lip service to the importance of change. And without exception, the truly successful businesses I am lucky enough to work with all have leaders who not only tolerate change, but encourage it and actively seek it out.

But there is more than one kind of change, and even these change agent leaders don’t always get them both right. The really good leaders understand the need to be constantly on the lookout for ways to change the business. Is our product or service relevant? Will it be relevant in 5 years? What else can we offer to customers? Should we be seeking out different customers? How will we need to market to our customers over the next 5 years? What about vendors? All these things and a hundred more need to be on the radar.

The other kind of change is in you, the leader. Even the best leaders sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that they were put in the position of being the leader because of what they’ve said and done in the past, so if they just keep saying and doing those same things, everything will work out. Wrong!

You as the leader must be constantly evolving & changing. What are you doing to improve your performance as a leader? What books are you reading? What classes are you taking? What new challenges or opportunities are you seeking out that would help you grow? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will help you change? Or with those who will allow you to get comfortable?

I heard a speaker say something a while back that nearly made my brain explode. He said he only likes to read books that agree with his viewpoint (hopefully he was joking). But it made me think: how often do we seek out things that make us feel good or comfortable, rather than those things that challenge us and push us to grow? If you’re only looking for affirmation, you’re guaranteed to find stagnation.

So push yourself. Don’t allow yourself to think that the you from 2005 will be good enough in 2025. Spend just as much energy changing yourself as you do changing your company. You will never regret it – and neither will your business.

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