Let’s take a look at leadership and the process of change itself. There are seven stages, which can be broken down into three categories.

Conceptualization (Insight)

Step 1 – Perception. Perceive the need for and benefit of change.
Step 2 – Potential. Believe that I can change.
Step 3 – Purpose. Establish clearly-defined goals.

Actualization (Action)

Step 4 – Intention. Focus all power in attainment of goals.

Reinforcement (Final Internalization)

Step 5 – Reinforcement. Recognize and celebrate achievements.
Step 6 – Inclusion. Share and learn with others.
Step 7 – Expansion. Look for the next opportunity to expand, develop and grow.
Leadership: Celebration and Sharing

First, we gain the insight that tells us that change is possible and beneficial. We also believe we possess the personal perception, potential, and power to attain whatever goals we establish. We establish our plans, in accordance with our purpose(s).

Second, we set about making those plans come to life, using whatever resources are available. It is the actualization part of this process that transforms perception into reality, as we create the situation we desire.

Finally, there is reinforcement of our original belief, thinking and actions by way of recognition, celebration and sharing what we have learned with others. It is amazing to me how often this entire part of the sequence is omitted.

How often do we achieve something, perhaps even a major victory, and do not spend the time to process what we have gained from the experience, choosing, instead, to set more goals?

Share Knowledge

The sharing of the knowledge we have attained is an important part of this step, though few of us make a conscious effort to do so. There are two major reasons for sharing the benefit of our experiences:

We reinforce our own learning. When you are able to share or teach something to someone else, you know that you have internalized the experience. One cannot impart that which one does not possess.
We gain the benefit of other people’s input, insights and perception on the event, adding to the knowledge we have personally gained.

Share Experience

It is this last stage that prepares us for moving on to the next stage and further reinforces our thinking that we are on the right track. For the sharing of our experiences, by including and involving others, helps us attain the support we need to continue on indefinitely.

However, that we are not talking about boasting of our achievements; we are talking about co-processing it with others with whom we have established a bond of mutual trust and respect.

Changes are always going to keep coming at us, no matter how well we plan or how well we think we are prepared for them. By using a little transformational thinking, many of the changes that previously used to come out of left field can be better anticipated.

Then they can either be avoided or turned into opportunities, if we are properly equipped, mentally and spiritually, to do so. Those that do take us by surprise don’t have the devastating and paralyzing impact they did before, once we are trained and developed to think quickly, understand how to handle them, and assume our part of the responsibility for doing so.

Create Opportunity

This is the most important change of all, this transformation from Victims of Circumstance into Champions of Change.  As we begin to realize and tap into the personal power we each possess, we begin to see that we are the ones creating many of the changes that used to baffle us and we are able to redirect our efforts towards changes that have positive results.

By developing our perceptive abilities, learning to recognize our potential, and to recognize and create opportunity, suddenly we lose our fear and anxiety that used to accompany even the smallest of changes.  It is precisely this stage of development that prepares us to live life with faith and courage, for isn’t that exactly what faith is..the absence of fear?

No two thoughts can occupy the mind at the same time.  That is why I begin each day focusing on whatever sources of anxiety I may have, taking note of their cause, then letting them go, replacing them with positive thoughts and plans.  It sets the entire tone of my day.

In other words, referring back to the Seven Stages of Change, ones day begins with Conceptualization. The rest is merely stages two and three, those of Actualization and Expansion. But, in order to get to the point of Conceptualization, one needs to develop certain skills to deal with the ego side of the picture, eliminating the force of fear. We will get into how this is done later on.

Learn Through Experiences

All of the internal processes that we currently use to think have been learned through our experiences. They have become as much second nature to us as driving is to the experienced driver. The driver no longer needs to think of when to signal, how to change gear or which pedal is the clutch.

The same is true for thinking. The problem with thinking is that we have become so used to the processes that we don’t even know what they are. They have become second nature to us.

Leadership Skills Takeaway

When learning new thinking skills, we must use and practice them in the same way until we no longer even notice that we’re doing it. We have internalized them and it is simply the new way we think and believe, the resultant behavior will produce much more desirable outcomes.

How Can Leaders Embrace the 7 Stages of Change?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Dr. Terry Jackson
Terry is Managing Partner for WEpiphany. Developing People is Terry’s purpose and passion. Terry brings 25 years of experience working for organizations and is also a certified Executive and Business Coach, and Sales Trainer.