Change for the Sake of Change May Not be Good Change

Most of us are excited when we take on a new leadership role, and we want to make improvements, put our stamp on the company, and make change happen.  We want to surf the wave of opportunity that a new leadership position offers. Some of our belief is that changing things is why we were hired or promoted, and that may be the truth, but it’s never the whole truth. 

When we are new to a role, it’s natural to see ourselves as agents of change, and feel the heavy expectation of those around us regarding how we will be different from our predecessor. We may misinterpret this attention as a desire for change, rather than what it truly is – a hyper-awareness that things could change. The whole truth is that very little could change, and that may be completely appropriate and the best course of action.

I often see new leaders step into their new roles and want to start “fixing” what their predecessors did as a way to establish their brand. But before you jump in and enact “change for the sake of change,” I suggest that you consider the following recommendations to fully understand your new role and where change would truly be beneficial. 

  • Check your ego at the door and develop the mindset of a beginner. Asking good questions will gain more ground for you when you want to make a change, if you show up with humility and curiosity.
  • Take time to get to know your co-workers and fully understand their work and the constraints that they are operating within.
  • Assess what’s working, and ask a lot of questions of your team and those who interact with your team to create a full picture of the issues.  Don’t begin by assuming the incumbents to be wrong, but seek to understand. (Stephen Covey)
  • Until you’ve done your due diligence, don’t decide that everything is wrong and needs to be fixed. There may be good reasons not to change some things. 
  • Learn from your previous mistakes and those of others.
  • Consider new options and things that have never been thought of before you decide to be conventional in what you want to change. 

Without gaining buy-in and support, and doing the homework, change that is just change is unsustainable, counter-productive and ironically can result in more spinning in the hamster wheel. Few of us intentionally set out on a course to make change for the sake of change, and the best way to make sure that we don’t is to check ourselves for our intention and purpose with each and every decision.