Confessions of a change strategist

I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have many answers at all. There – I’ve said it.

So many of my clients come to me expecting answers: how to find that next high-paying job, what to do next in a change situation, or even, what is the right question!

The key to being a good change strategist (or coach, or counsellor, or consultant) is about asking good questions, and knowing just when to ask those questions. It’s not about having the answers. It’s about understanding the journey that a client is on, having a sense of the person and being able to walk with the person along the way.

What I love is that I never know who’s going to walk through my door. My challenge and amazing privilege is to adapt to the person and help them a little further along the road.

Most often, the client has the answer, or at least a sense of the direction that he or she needs to head to find it. They just need help getting to it.

With respect to career options, for example, there may be a single answer, and then again, there may be several options with varying degrees of satisfaction, risk and return.

It is my job to help you consider these options; to understand the meaning and challenges of change for you, in your situation, in your life, on your journey.

Understanding and responding to change can take many forms. Reactions can range from a deep insecurity around meaning and purpose, to seeing the change as an opportunity. In all cases, I believe firmly that change is mostly unwanted. My role is to help you appreciate the change as a positive opportunity to create a more positive, better-aligned, future.

I will help you consider the answers to four key questions – and everyone answers them differently. The questions are:

Who am I?

It sounds simple, but it’s actually quite complex and fraught with misunderstanding, societal pressure and personal belief.  A key indicator could be how you answer the question: ‘Tell me about yourself.’ Or your elevator pitch – literally how would you explain who you are, in the 15 seconds of an elevator ascent or descent.

Where am I going?

Not the destination, but the direction. What does it look like? Why do you want to go there? Why should you be allowed to go there?

How does this (who I am, and where I’m going) align with my current role and organisation?

This question is a checkpoint.  The answer will determine the next steps, which leads us to the final question.

How am I going to get there?

The answer to this question determines the strategy employed to move you further along your journey. You may not get there, but it should take you in the right direction.

So, I’m actually relieved that I don’t have all the answers. It allows me instead to listen, to encourage, to ask questions – the right question, at the right time. It’s a privilege to help clients unpack the answers. 

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