“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

If we are to be effective at helping clients understand and manage complex change, we must not only have the ability to educate and facilitate—we must also model the behavior we need to see in those we serve.

Who we are particularly affects our relationships with senior sponsors. Many practitioners haven’t come to terms with that fact. I’ve heard internal agents say, “I like being assigned to high-level leaders, but I can’t be a role model for people that high up in our organization. Anyone at that level won’t relate to me in that way anyway, but I don’t really see myself as someone a senior officer should imitate.”

This kind of self-image limits the practitioner to tactical influence at best. We have to see ourselves as not only change specialists, but also exemplars for the sponsors we serve. Yes, it’s challenging, but without this aspect to the relationship, our guidance will seem more theoretical than practical (it may sound good but doesn’t translate to real life). Even worse, we can appear to the sponsor as providing questionable, if not bogus, guidance.

At the very least, if we don’t mirror what we advocate, our ability to reframe and shape outcomes is reduced dramatically. The unspoken message is, “I can explain to you what to do but I don’t know how to actually function that way myself.”

There are countless ways we can be a role model. For example, we can make courageous decisions, analyze data objectively, and send straightforward communications.

Another characteristic we should model, and one that is critical for sponsors to acquire, is resilience—yet many of us don’t demonstrate this to the extent we should.

I will spend the next few posts talking about resilience—its characteristics and ways we can increase it in ourselves.

How about you? Do you feel you’re able to model the behavior you need to see in sponsors? Why or why not?

Next: How resilient are you?