If I look back to 2016 – which feels like a lifetime ago now – things were pretty settled. I was happily living in a house I’d been in for many years. I was part of the Insights Exec Team, which had been made up of (mostly) the same faces for a long time. My manager and I had worked with each other for almost two decades and had shared many highs, lows and adventures together as we guided our business through a whole raft of both planned, and unforeseen, events.
Sure, being a senior leader in an ambitious company always had its tightrope moments, where we felt so very keenly the consequences of every big decision we had to make. But even that felt comfortable and familiar; I had become used to, and indeed thrived on, the dynamic I had with my Executive colleagues, our individual and collective strengths and weaknesses, and our easy way of working together. I took in my stride the natural rhythm we had found and the sense of safety and belonging this brought.
And now we find ourselves in 2018, just beginning to emerge from a period of change I thought I was prepared for. Our Exec Team has undergone more than evolution – it’s a revolution! New faces have joined us in leading the company, bringing their decades of expertise and fresh thinking with them, and I have a new manager who has brought enlivening change directly to my door. And as a company we’ve reached the end of one strategic period, and we’re now kicking off into the next one with bigger, bolder plans than ever before. Oh and I moved out of my house after 19 years and moved to a new house in a new town with my lovely fella in tow.
I thought I was ready for all of it. After all, I’m no newbie to Insights, nor a graduate fresh from my leaver’s ball, and I’ve experienced more change than I can even remember during my time here. In my mind, I almost believed that dealing with change was for other people – that my role was to lead the change agenda and then help others transition through it as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
Well, that turned out to be – not to put too fine a point on it – naïve and maybe even rather arrogant. At times, I found myself really struggling with the amount and speed of the personal and professional change. At work, I found myself navigating a number of new relationships, getting used to an entirely different dynamic in our team meetings, trying hard to find my place and my voice within this new structure, and realising that I’d underestimated just exactly how vulnerable change can make us all feel. Managing a house move at the same time brought additional pressure.
But these changes, while tricky to handle and unexpectedly humbling, taught me valuable lessons. Because what became very clear to me as I navigated every adjustment, from trying to get wifi installed and set up a home office in my new house, to the strong and authentic relationship my manager and I are building together, is that change is nothing if it’s not an opportunity.
Being settled and familiar with so many aspects of your life can be lovely and calming, like sinking into a warm bath - but it’s a shot of cold water that forces you to leap into action. Thanks to the last year of transformation, I’ve found myself re-energised and ambitious for myself and my people in new ways. Perhaps most of all I’ve been reminded how it feels for others who are transitioning through change and that, I hope, will make me a far better leader as we lean into the big work ahead.