The Executive Change Agent: Leading Your Organization Forward

Kristen McPherson
Written by Kristen McPherson

September 12, 2019

The way we think about, talk about, and address behavioral and mental health has changed drastically over the years. Today, discussions center around concepts like ‘value-based care’ and ‘whole-person care’. We’ve seen how technology has disrupted many industries, including Health and Human Services, and how it’s now being used to enhance the experience of patients and employees alike. And we’ve arrived where we are today in many parts thanks to change agents – visionaries within the field who have effected change for the better.

As William Pollard, a physicist and minister, once said, “To change is difficult. Not to change is fatal.” As a leader within the Health and Human Services industry, you are not only in the position to be an executive change agent, but you are expected to serve this role in order to lead your organization through transformative improvements and improve quality of care. Continuously working to change and improve your workplace is necessary to ensure your organization is able to achieve its mission. But leading your workforce through change can be challenging. Here are the top skills you need to become an effective change agent:

1. Have a vision. In order to lead your organization forward, you must have a future-oriented mindset. Having a vision of how you’d like your organization to look, act, feel, and function in the future is your starting point.

2. Develop a clear path. Once you have a goal for your organization, you can now work backwards to determine what steps are needed to get there. This can be difficult, especially as you blaze new trails for your workforce. Therefore, getting others involved at all levels of the organization can help you create a well-developed plan.

3. Inspire others. Even the best of plans will fall flat if you don’t rally your workforce behind your vision. Make sure to communicate your vision and how each individual plays a part in that vision. When others buy into the changes you want to make as an executive change agent, you’ll be able to move your organization forward.

4. Be adaptive. When taking steps towards anything new that hasn’t been done before, you can expect to hit some road bumps along the way. No matter how carefully you plan, you will likely need to adjust course at some point or another. Being adaptive will help you stay on track to achieve your goals.

It can be easy to fall into the routine of simply doing the same thing you’ve always done at your organization. And while this may work for a while, it will likely not work forever. The way we think about health and human services continues to evolve, and executives are uniquely positioned to be the agents of these changes.