Change Agent 101: How to Make a Change in Your Community
WHAT IS A CHANGE AGENT?
“Such a person assumes leadership
responsibilities and serves as a catalyst
for a group, stirring people up in an
effort to make positive change occur.”
- Social Change Model of Leadership
CHARACTERISTICS OF A CHANGE AGENT
1. BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR BIG GOAL
• What is it that you are really trying to accomplish?
• Do you have a vision of your end goal?
• Keeping the end goal in mind is critical to forward
• You will experience many setbacks on the way as some
of your tactics will fail.
• If you dwell on the latest setback it is easy to become
2. CHOOSE A LEAD
• All too often, people see problems but wait for someone
else to address it.
• Leadership is a choice.
• If you see a problem, own it.
• And fix it.
3. LOOK FOR LEVERAGE POINTS
• Leverage points are places where you can achieve a
multiplier effect from focused efforts.
• Who has major say in your community?
• Who can you brainstorm with?
4. PLANT LOTS OF SEEDS
• If you are looking to implement a major culture change,
you will need to start planting seeds in various parts of
• Be on the constant lookout for:
• Opportunities for small wins
• New allies
• Ways to change the language used to discuss your issue
5. DEVELOP A NETWORK
• Networks are key enablers for the change agent.
• Members of a network can provide each other
encouragement, ideas, and other support.
• They can also provide leverage by building support for
change in diverse parts of the organization.
• Networks also reinforce the fact that you are not alone – a
key factor in being able to persist.
6. MAINTAIN YOUR OPTIMISM
• “The optimist sees opportunity in every difficultly.”
• Optimism gives the enduring belief that, working with and
through others, we can make a difference
• Optimism is also infectious.
7. BE CREATIVE ABOUT TACTICS
• Keep the end goal in mind while you look for tactics that
will help you find ways to go over, under, around, or
through the obstacles.
• If one tactic doesn’t work, try something else.
• If you don’t have a knack for finding creative solutions,
partner with colleagues who do.
8. BE HONEST IN YOUR ASSESSMENT
• What would happen if your change initiative is
implemented and then fails miserably?
• How would that impact your agency’s ability to perform
• How much money and energy will have been wasted?
• Will it cause public embarrassment?
9. CULTIVATE CREDIBILITY
• You need to take the time to cultivate your credibility in
• Implementing some modest but innovative changes
within their immediate sphere of influence can help them
build credibility as an innovator and provide valuable
learning about how to get things done in the organization.
10. KEEP ASKING “WHY?”
• Those who have been around for awhile may have
become accustomed to an absurd status quo.
• It’s important to find ways to keep the fresh perspective
of the newbie.
• “Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t
mean it’s not incredibly stupid.”