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How to Become a Champion of Change

Mom and kids cleanup sidewalkI recently witnessed a woman and her three young children cleaning up a littered sidewalk in downtown Atlanta.  It was a hot and sticky August afternoon.

She had them all lined up in a cute little formation – guiding them to “litter targets” and encouraging them the entire time.  They were all dressed in proper “litter detail” attire along with latex gloves. It was a sight to see.

I rolled down my window and simply said “Thank you.” She smiled. I could see the sweat pouring down her face.

I felt so proud, and couldn’t help but think about the lesson she was teaching her children (and the amazing example she was setting for them…and the public.)

Perhaps this was her way of giving back to the community. Or maybe she was tired of seeing excessive litter along the sidewalk where she shopped.  (BTW – I assume she didn’t write her congressman, launch a protest, or picket on the corner for cleaner streets!)

It didn’t matter.  The point was – she saw a problem and took action! She was a champion of change.

This woman exemplifies what true leadership is about:  Action and Influence.

Mom and kids clean up in atlanta

Imagine if you and your fellow employees had this same sense of responsibility and contribution – to see a problem, rally the troops and then take action to fix it.

What litter is polluting the sidewalks and environment of your workplace?  What are you doing to clean it up?

If you want to lead at work:

  1. Keep your eyes (and ears) scanning for workplace “litter” (corrupt employees, gossip, wasted resources, unreliable partners, etc.)
  2. Show others where the litter is and get them on your cleaning crew.
  3. Come up with a viable plan.
  4. Share the litter and solution with your leadership (if able.)
  5. Grab a garbage bag and get to work. (Be accountable for results!)

Cleaning up organizational litter (or life litter, for that matter), and adapting to change isn’t easy and it may involve some sweat and sacrifice. But the dirty jobs often reveal hidden beauty.

Don’t let litter in your organization accumulate. When you see something that can be changed for the better, do something to clean it up.  And then watch how your example will influence (albeit sometimes slowly) others to do the same.

This is how change is managed. It’s how innovation becomes part of a company’s DNA.  And it’s how clean and healthy organizational cultures are built and nurtured.

So, are you a champion of change?  Better get your broom!

(PS – I would love to hear below how you are a champion of change at work or at home)