When it comes to stories of successful change-makers, have you ever thought to yourself, “what do they have that I don’t?” Finding a straightforward answer for success would certainly provide value for yourself and those around you. When all is said and done, change-makers are just people too. And people possess characteristics, qualities and habits.

So, just what are change-makers doing to see them hit dizzying heights of potential?

This has been a hot topic in the current social climate and recent studies and reports—combined with influential books from the past covering the same subject—have identified common characteristics in the modern successful change-maker.

Here, we’ll delve into some of those common characteristics that have becoming embedded into a successful change-makers DNA.

Mission-led with purpose

Success usually starts with a plan. And a plan usually has an end goal.

Successful change-makers begin with the end firmly embedded in their minds. They are incredibly mission-led and possess the ability to focus solely on the mission before money.

The best are those who are literally ‘on a mission’.

So, why is being mission-led important?

It drives purpose. It helps assess readiness and creates a true commitment to making an impact.

It also helps navigation. Knowing where to start is crucial. And it’s not just figuring out the right direction professionally. Finding out what stimulates your own enthusiasm and using that to plan ahead prompts an unmatched confidence that can really drive success.

Of course, it goes without saying that a positive attitude drives engagement and helps others adopt the same mindset

Adaptive and responsive

Successful change-makers are assessors. They can assess the environment around them and make changes as and when needed.

They seek where they can make an influence and constantly review their strategy to ensure they are pursuing change in the best way.

Having one eye on the competition empowers them to adapt and respond to change through ways in which they can develop or improve to stay one step ahead.

Creating new responsive habits are also great ways to trigger encouragement and motivational routines that help maintain success.

Adaptiveness and responsiveness are key ingredients for a healthy meal of understanding. Not only understanding those you collaborate with, but also understanding how to overcome adversity.

Importance of relationships

An important part of any relationship is trust. Trust can not only lead to transformational change – it can also create invaluable support during the difficult moments.

Without it we would probably never get started and we almost certainly wouldn’t see it through.

Having these valuable individuals in your inner circle will not only encourage advice to be sought and more ideas to enter the fold, it also enables change-makers to become better listeners.

Collaboration with others can make you realize that you can accomplish more.

Listening works both ways: when you are listened to, it can give you confidence and your ideas more meaning. Then there’s the ability to achieve focused listening – a way to hear the words of others without judgement.

A recent study by The Sheila Mckechnie Foundation, Social Power, revealed a strong appetite amongst changemakers for more collaboration, but also frustration with the barriers that prevent it – organisational ego, competition for funding.

Synergy is also a word that appears frequently when the topic of successful change-makers arises. It reminds us that disagreements are inevitable. However, synergizing improves mutual commitment and adds a value to a team’s differences.

Celebrate small successes

Change-makers are well aware that the small successes should be recognized. That way, the motivation remains on track for future and larger successes.

Celebrating the small successes serves as a reminder of the journey they are on to making change.

Identifying the small successes is a way of monitoring what is working. It can even be the indicator to take a rest. This awareness is vital for self-care and mental health.

It allows to find the healthy balance in your own life or with your team, and then to make tweaks where needed.

It helps to put the bigger picture into perspective and gives you the patience to think bigger in your next achievement.

The problem with not doing this is we end up diminishing our motivation and motivation is what keeps us on the right path.

The need to celebrate these small successes can easily lead to the want to achieve more. Working towards taking the next step and knowing that it will be celebrated culminates in an improved desire and determination for the long term.

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Article updated on: 11 March 2024