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Did You Lose Yourself to Transformational Change?
29 May 2019

Did You Lose Yourself to Transformational Change?

Transformational change is a topic that has dominated many of my coaching discussions this year. I’ve coached senior leaders who are in the midst of it, and leaders who have aspirations to be. Interestingly what’s been most noticeable throughout these discussions, is that while these leaders have been focusing on delivering change, they have forgotten to focus on themselves.

Genuine transformational change is an organisation-wide shift in business culture and leaders do not just deliver it, they also experience it. When considering the immense thought, energy and time that it takes to achieve, it is no surprise that many leaders fail to consider their own goals during the process. This can allow the organisational agenda to blur or even override personal career aspirations. The type of challenges that I am seeing arise from this include burn-out, disengagement with the new direction of a role and an overall loss of career purpose once change projects are complete. These leaders have in essence, forgotten to include themselves in the change process.

The risk of failing to pay attention to career planning is of course not just pertinent to leaders delivering transformational change. Regardless of your role or responsibility in a workplace, it is important to ensure that career is on your agenda. We should never become so fixated on delivering organisational goalposts that we miss setting our own.

Take Control

Most career paths are no longer linear and roles and organisations are constantly changing. Workplaces can look very different, very quickly. Taking control of your own development starts with ensuring that you have a strategy in place for it. While this can of course be done in conjunction with your employer, it is also an important exercise to undertake for yourself. This allows you to think more broadly when considering your preferred direction and reduces the risk of it being defined for you.

What steps have you taken towards defining your career goals?     

What do you need to do next in order to progress your plan and how might the transformation impact this?

Be Self-Aware

Give your development and career planning the attention that it deserves. It takes time and commitment to genuinely reflect on your work preferences and understand the values that underlie them. Seeking feedback from a variety of sources is also an important step in this process. Changes that are introduced across an organisation are likely to also create changes to your role. When this happens, self-awareness can be a powerful tool to support sound career choices – “When you know what’s important it’s a lot easier to ignore what’s not”.

What experience in your career has felt the most enjoyable so far, and why?

Which aspects of your current work do you tend to avoid?

Set Goals

There is a reason that leading organisations set goals and measures – science shows that they work. Interestingly I see many leaders who ensure they are set for their projects or employees, but not for themselves. By setting specific goals and time-frames for self-development, you are more likely to hold yourself to account when working to achieve them. Include a measure to commit to how frequently you will review your progress as this can also assist you to maintain accountability.

What goals do you want to achieve with you career and how does your current role align with these?                                                     

What is the risk of not defining these? 

Build An Experience Map

What specific experiences will move you closer to your goals and where can you find them? Don’t limit yourself to the obvious – seek stretch assignments and consider different types of mentors that will support your move forward. Importantly, always consider if a career experience is moving you in the right direction. If you are no longer enjoying a role or area of work it is important to get curious about why. Remember that it can take trial and error to find your peak career experience and the “less than perfect” ones provide valuable lessons and insights along the way.

What are 3 experiences that you can pursue to progress your goals?                               

What are the current or potential obstacles preventing you from obtaining these?           

As change continues to dominate our workplaces, it is more important than ever for leaders to take ownership of their own development. Change is not slowing down anytime soon, but by placing career back on your agenda you can ensure that your career goals don’t get lost in the process.

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