Catalyst Conundrum

As leaders our role can often be one of driving a major transformational change within an organization. We are the catalyst for the change.

According to Merrian-Webster a catalyst is “an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action”.

Unfortunately, in chemistry, a catalyst, whilst required to ensure that the change happens, is not often part of the finished product it’s usually discarded and ends up as waste material.

As leaders, when we are the catalyst for change, and especially major change, we need to ensure that we do not end up as discarded, necessary for the change to happen, but not necessary as a part of the final solution.

Sometimes this can be because the role of catalyst is our raison d’etre and we just move onto the next change, as that is what motivates us.

Or it can be that to drive the change, we have to have such an impact on an organization, that it’s just not possible that there will be a role for us in the future organization.

I worked at one company where we needed to have a significant restructuring, the leader was brought in to slash the organization by 50%, he did what was needed but it would have been impossible for him to continue to work in our department, as he was so hated for the work he had done, even though most people know that it was needed.

He had to move onto a another company, he was the catalyst for the change, but ended up being discarded.

When we are involved in driving change we need to understand what our future role is going to be, will it be as part of the final solution, or will we look to move onto something else.

If our intention is to remain as part of the final solution, this may impact the way that we approach the change. It might mean that we take a little longer in implementing it, looking to get more buy-in.

We may look to take an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary change.

However, to most people in people involved in any change, whether we see it as evolutionary or not, they will feel it as revolutionary.

This is a conundrum to which there is no easy answer.

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