Top Tips for Becoming a Change Maker
We are all change makers. We all have that potential inside us. We can each influence the culture of our workplaces and communities around us, with our unique combination of gifts, perspectives, stories, strengths, talents and voices.
The needs around us are huge. We can feel overwhelmed with the enormity of societal change and discount ourselves, thinking we’re not enough to make a difference. BUT we don’t need to take on everything, every need, every issue, we can add our energy and resources and play our part. We can all be part of creating kinder, more equitable and inclusive workplaces. We can all be part of making changes for the better in our communities.
This article gives you tips for becoming a change maker and making that a sustainable part of your life.
1. Take notice and be curious
When you have a look around your workplace, your community and wider society, and when you watch the news, what do you notice? What are you angry about? What are you curious about, and what do you dream could be different? What issues do you care about, and what would you like to see change for the better? These are clues to lead you towards what kind of change making you’re drawn to be part of.
In a workplace context you can do a mini audit - take a look around and notice who’s included, and who’s excluded? Who’s having a tougher time, who’s experiencing bias and barriers and daily micro-aggressions? Where are your pay gaps, is there flexible working, and how are you accommodating people’s access and flexibility needs?
Take a look at your senior team, who has access, what are they modelling in terms of workplace culture and the kind of leadership that is rewarded in your company? What does it feel like to be part of your company? Who’s thriving, who seems to be having the most fun, who’s getting promoted and visibility opportunities? Who’s not?
What about in your meetings, whose voice gets heard, who gets interrupted, who gets the airtime? There’s a more in-depth audit process but even this mini audit will reveal the areas for change and improvement inside your workplace culture.
2. What privilege do you hold?
Next, consider what privilege you hold. What access, what voice, what power and influence do you have inside your organization? Sometimes it can feel like ‘not a lot’ but how can you use the voice, power and access you do have to make a difference for others?
Who can you invite into spaces where you have access? Whose work can you ‘big up’ when they’re not in the room? Whose voices can you amplify?
3. Play to your strengths
Now consider what kinds of things give you joy, when you’re playing to your strengths, when you feel energized, excited and like you are thriving. For example, do you like to be upfront, helping others see the big picture or do you like to be behind the scenes, working on the detail? Do you like to be outside, in nature? Do you prefer to work in collaboration with others, or by yourself? This kind of enquiry will give you clues as to where your change-making energies can best be spent, what kind of involvement you may want to have, and where you can add the most value.
4. Build a network
Find out who’s already working on the cause you care about. If you’re feeling angry about an injustice or concerned about a particular gap in your workplace or wider society – others will be too. When we follow our anger and activation, we’ll usually find others there too, and being a ‘we’ is always more powerful, and sustainable, than being just a ‘me’. Where there are others already leading, we don’t need to set up our own thing in competition or step in and take over, we can choose to take our place and follow.
5. It’s ok to ask for help
It may be you’ve discovered a gap and you’re the one to reveal it, speak up about it and gather others around the issue – fantastic! Invite others who are energized by this issue, to get involved, add their voice and be part of a wider movement. If you’re playing the initiator role, there are three aspects to consider to set yourself up for success and help prevent burnout:
- Ensure you’ve others around you who can mitigate your weaknesses by playing to their strengths
- Make sure you’re prioritizing your own self-care to ensure you stay sustainable
- Find yourself some safe spaces for support and accountability
We can feel like we’re not enough or too busy or focused on the daily challenges of our own lives, to believe that we can also be change makers. However, you can start where you are with what you have – it just starts with taking the first step.
We need your voice, we need your contribution. I’m cheering you on!