Confessions of a Change Strategist

I have a confession to make.

I don’t have all the answers.

There, I’ve said it.

People in career transition often come to me expecting answers – how to find that next high-paying job or what to do next in their career – and sometimes even want to know what the right question is!

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

One of the things I love about my job 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 with their journey by asking the right questions. More often than not, 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 there.

For example, with respect to career options, there may be a single answer and there may be several options with varying degrees of satisfaction, risk and return. It is my job to help people consider these options and understand the meaning and challenges of each.

Understanding and responding to change can take many forms, ranging from a deep insecurity around one’s meaning and purpose, to seeing the change as an opportunity. In all cases, I firmly believe that change is mostly unwanted. My role is to help those in transition appreciate the change as an opportunity to create a more positive and better aligned future.

I ask everyone I work with to consider the answers to four key questions – and, let me tell you now, everyone answers them differently.

The first question to consider is “who am I?” It sounds simple, but is 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?” It is important to develop an elevator pitch, or how would you explain who you are in the 15 seconds of an elevator ascent or descent.

Secondly, consider the question “where am I going?” Do not focus on the destination, but rather the direction you are heading in, or would like to. What does it look like? Why do you want to go there? Why should you be allowed to go there?

The third question is a checkpoint – “how does this (who I am, and where I’m going) align with my current role and organisation?” The answer to this question will determine the next steps, which leads us to the final question – “how am I going to get there?”

The answer to this question will determine the strategy employed to move further along your journey. You may not get there – wherever “there” may be - 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 questions, at the right time. It’s a privilege to help clients arrive at the answers. And I learn so much more about myself in the process!

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  1. Kim's avatar
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    It's so great to have a sounding board (like a career coach) when going through a transition! Having someone ask me questions to prompt my thinking about the possibilities and to keep me honest with myself has been invaluable throughout my entire career! Great blog! Cheers!
  2. Brian's avatar
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    Thanks Kim, appreciate you taking the time to comment!

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