During times of chaotic change, most people in the workplace will retract into their shell in a defensive posture and wait. We wait for the layoffs to cease. We wait for the organizational announcements to settle down. We wait for the new leadership to define goals and strategies for us. We wait for someone to tell us what we should do, on the assumption that what we were previously doing is now incorrect. This scenario repeats itself over and over again in business, whether it is as dramatic as a corporate restructure with massive layoffs or as simple as a change in leadership or strategy.
This behavior demonstrates a risk averse nature. Only a few demonstrate the courage to push limits and boundaries and to challenge. Most people want to play it safe and are far more comfortable being told what to do. During periods of change, this group of people go into paralysis.
If you are serious about being a leader and influencer, this is absolutely the wrong behavior. During times of upheaval, that is when you should go into hyperactive mode. All of those ideas that no one would previously listen to or take action on? Start sharing them again with anyone who will listen to you. All of those initiatives that you have underway that are not yet complete? Now is the time to accelerate them to a major milestone for visible achievement. All of those stakeholders that you were shielded from communicating with directly? Reach out to them and foster relationships.
In short, if you really want to be a leader and a change agent, you should be giddy during times of upheaval. This is the time when you have a blank sheet of paper to influence outside of the lines. There are no lines, they are being erased and redrawn. Don’t wait for the new paint to dry on the pavement before you try to make an impact, get yourself into gear and make it happen now.