Change Sounds Good; How Do You Do It?

Four executives share their strategies for coping with it�or making it happen

ELC members at the summit. (Source: Kerry-Ann Hamilton)

Intellectually, everyone understands the importance of change, but when it’s time to happen people want to take it personally, said Kim Goodman, president, Merchant Services Americas at this week’s Executive Leadership Council’s panel, Black Women on Change, an inaugural series and part of their annual Black Women’s Leadership Summit, this year held in Washington, D.C.

Goodman was one of several ELC members who encouraged women to fully not just embrace the concept of change, but work toward executable goals that will help define them as leaders in their organizations.

In a session moderated by Evern Cooper Epps, retired president of the UPS Foundation and vice president of UPS corporate relations, these female execs talked candidly about the elements of making effective change: courage, instinct, planning and working fearlessly. In the midst of managing change, “the true principles of leadership are constant,” offered Epps. Here are just a few points panelists urged women to consider:

Racquel Oden, managing director, head of global product strategy & business development, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch

Oden learned some of her best lessons on navigating change by white river rafting. When you are thrown from the boat, her guide instructs, let go and put your feet forward.

They tell you to trust the direction of the river, she says. Holding on is what causes the greatest injuries.

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Susan Chapman, global chief administrator officer, Citi Reality Services

In battling fear, Chapman always asks, what’s the worst that can happen? “I do things outside my comfort zone where winning doesn’t matter.” Activities like mountain biking or playing tennis help her to realize that you can always recover from a loss. “Name your fear. Know what it is. That’s what grounds you. If it doesn’t work out, it wasn’t meant for you.”

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Kim Goodman, president, Merchant Services Americas

Goodman believes that trust is one of the most important components of change management. “People will let go of their resistance if they trust you.” Goodman also believes professionals have to clear about what they want their work to represent and then set clear goals to accomplish them. “Do you want security or impact?” Leaders must demonstrate conviction that is tempered with the ability to be flexible and adaptable as they set out to achieve their goals.

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Paula Madison, executive vice president, diversity & chief diversity officer, NBC Universal and Co. officer, General Electric

“I live for professional change,” states Madison. “I want to make history…I’m’ looking for whatever the first is; then we have something to aspire to.” Many professionals are dangerously dictating their lives based on the goals of their organizations, says Madison. If the organization fails then you fail. No professional should be in fear of losing their job, she admonishes. “If [my boss] doesn’t like me, [then] I’m broke – That can’t happen.” Secure additional streams of income, live below your means. Your job is a contract, reminds Madison. “Either one of us can opt out.”

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Dianne Harris, MS, Life Coach

    My remarks are in response to Paula Madison. She indicated that work should be viewed as a contractual arrangement. We give away our power by embracing the idea that “if the boss doesn’t like me, I don’t have a job”. I appreciate your position on the topic because many of us behave in fear and believe that we have no control over our work situation, but we do. I raise my voice in agreement. Think big, life is long and create options for yourself.

  • Kristy Evans

    This is a very timely article for me. I am in the process of relocating to Virginia so that my childredn can be close to their father. The task ahead of my is daunting, however, I am ready for a change. I am not progressing in my current position and it is absolutely a waste of my time. I go forward without fear and no worries about the economy. I am in control of my destiny; not my boss. I look forward to my new life!