In honor of the International Women’s Day, I’d like to share my perspective on what boldness for change means to me. I’ll describe my transformation journey from an employee to an entrepreneur.
I studied Accounting at the University of Nigeria. Upon graduation, I worked briefly as an analyst in an investment bank. Subsequently, I was employed as a Finance and Performance Management analyst in a global management consulting firm. In my third year, my career path took an unexpected turn. I was assigned to work as a change management analyst on a Modernization project for one of the apex regulatory bodies in Nigeria. Initially, I was skeptical about the assignment, as change management belonged to the field of Human Resources and seemed less structured than Accounting, which I had studied in school. Looking back from my vantage point today, I can trace my subsequent transformation to the 5 steps of the Kleos Change Model.
The first thing I had to do was to identify my stakeholders. As I learned more about the principles and practice of change management, I came to realize that there was more to the field than met the eye. When properly applied, it had the potential to solve personal, organizational and social problems and could bring about a better life for Nigerians and Africans. My vision was not just about personal ambition; it was about touching the lives of others and making a difference.
The second step was to assess the potential impact of the change. To pursue my passion for change management in a consistent and dedicated manner, I needed to count the cost. And the cost was high. I would have to turn my back on Accounting, which I had studied with dedication for years, and move into a totally new field, after a one-year acquaintance. There was another, even graver implication of becoming a change specialist. Because my firm had a preference for generalists, it became clear that my decision to specialize in change management would require me to leave the firm and become an independent consultant. It was a heart-wrenching decision, as I was thriving in the firm, and was perceived to have long-term aspirations and the potential for senior leadership, even partnership. However, at the end of the day, I decided to take the bold step and leave the security of my 9-5 job for the uncertainty of life as a freelance consultant.
The third step was to plan the change journey. I didn’t walk into this blindly; I had a plan. My strategy was to learn, share, grow and eventually develop into a change management expert. I planned to work as a change manager on several projects while recording my insights in my blog. Eventually, I would write a book on change management and start my own business.
The fourth step was to execute the plan and ‘’work the dream into being’’. Over the next few years, I threw myself into my work. I was privileged to work on several change management projects in multiple industries and multiple locations across West Africa. I eventually came to develop the Kleos Change Model, which I put down in a book. I registered my change management consulting firm in May 2016, created my website (www.kleosadvisory.com) in September 2016 and launched a month after. Project Change was live!
The final step in managing change is reinforcement. There are times when I resent my 80-hour work weeks, the irregularity of my cash flow and the isolation of being a solopreneur. I sometimes cast a lingering glance at job vacancies and miss the camaraderie of working in an office with other bright, young professionals. However, when my resolve begins to falter, I look back with gratitude at what I’ve accomplished. My dreams of inspiring positive change are coming true!
In summary, I’ve discovered that positive change is possible when you apply the five cardinal steps of the Kleos Change Model:
- First, identify your stakeholders. The change should be carried out for ‘’them’’’ and with ‘’them’’; never just for ‘’you’’’ and by ‘’you’’.
- Second, assess the potential impact of the change and commit to paying the price.
- Third, make a plan.
- Fourth, execute the plan with relentless focus and commitment.
- Finally, reinforce the change. Be grateful for your accomplishments and continue to look forward.
I’d like to end with one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill. ‘’To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.’’
That’s what boldness for change means to me.
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