Change Agent as Tour Guides

In many ways, the complex world that is emerging all around us is a very new place. The environment, the expectations, the way things work, and what’s possible are all very different from what people have come to expect from a more stable, merely complicated world.

Many people are frustrated and confused when old ways of doing things don’t produce the successful outcomes they used to. Younger workers won’t just do what they’re told, new technologies appear before we really grasp what came before them, and we’re being asked to solve problems we couldn’t even have imagined a few years ago. People often react to this bombardment of change by becoming angry, blaming others, disengaging, hiding, or worse. It makes the change process much more difficult and painful than it needs to be.

Change agents who punish or dismiss people who “don’t get with the program” don’t help. Labeling confused or frightened people as “resistors” and treating them as such squanders the opportunity to help them successfully contribute their talent to building out this new world.

It helps if people at the forefront of change think of themselves as being more like tour guides who are there to help others understand and get excited about the new world that’s grown up around them.

On a recent trip to Hawaii our family was fortunate to have an amazing tour guide who showed us the wonders of volcanoes. We’d been on the Big Island for a few days before we went on the tour, but I had no idea what I’d been looking at – and missing – until our guide revealed all that was there. He guided us to climb into a lava tube cave, hike to the bottom of the volcano caldera, examined rocks in jagged fields to learn about lava, and marvel at the glow of an active volcano at night.  I walked away with a deep sense of awe for volcanoes, for the Big Island, for the role volcanoes play in shaping our planet.

Really good tour guides:

  • Point out new things in ways that help others understand what they are and why they matter.
  • Create experiences that open people to embracing new ways of thinking and being.
  • Get people excited about new ideas and possibilities, often by sharing their own enthusiasm

Change becomes easier and more inviting when change agents think of themselves as tour guides who illuminate the new patterns that are overriding the old ones, enable people to envision the contributions they can make, and help them learn the new skills needed to make a difference.

Coaching-based leadership – the use of coaching approaches to ignite insight and illuminate possibilities in day-to-day conversations – is what turns change agents into tour guides, opening up a whole new world of possibilities for everyone.

Join the Conversation

Listen to what people are complaining about. Is there something you see that they don’t? How might you invite people to “tour” the world you experience when you look at the situation from a different perspective?  Please share your thoughts and experiences.

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