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Running head: CHANGE CATALYST 1

Articulation of Competency: Change Catalyst

Wendi D. Sparling

Azusa Pacific University


Change Catalyst

Change is inevitable. Despite acknowledgment or expressed desire, embracing the

realities that require lasting change is never an easy task. Resistance is expected and inevitable

which can make facilitating or initiating change efforts an interesting endeavor. Change, personal

and organizational, can challenge deeply ingrained sense of identity, bias, value systems, and

accepted expectations. Change catalysts recognize that they are instrumental in transforming the

thoughts and behaviors of people. Individually or collectively, leading change requires a leader

who is compassionate, patient, responsive, consistent, offers honest appraisal, and is a willing

and teachable role model for others.

Life is a series of transitions (Bridges, 2004). What I have learned is that my response to

those transitions has direct correlation to my relationship with Christ. For a Christian leader,

change has spiritual significance. Relationship with Jesus requires a response and frequently, that

response requires personal change. As believers, we are being transformed into his likeness (2

Corinthians 3:18). Responsiveness is a direct reflection of the trust and assurance that I have in

Him. If I truly believe that his ways, his vision for my life is better than mine, there is a need to

relinquish control and trust the outcome. If this true for my relationship with Christ, then the

same can be said of me as a leader. This is evidenced in a reflection of deep change (Appendix

A). During times of uncertainty or ambiguity that comes with new vision, there will be those

who will follow the trusted advisor, or those who will adamantly resist (Kotter, 2012). A leader is

first be responsible for oneself, actions and reactions before they can lead others.

Concepts from different leadership theories assist in providing more information on how

to best inform a change process. Situational leadership theory proves useful when implementing

change. Situational leadership understands and adapts to the needs of the individual or group

depending on what is needed or required (Natemeyer & Hersey, 2011). When leading a group

into a new thought or process, capabilities and attitudes will differ. Leading change requires

knowing when to encourage and when to let go knowing that the individual has the confidence

and skills to continue alone. Additionally, it is important to know the differences between

management and leadership, and how to integrate the two. Management is concerned with

systems and processes, and leadership is concerned with the people who will be implementing

those processes (Kotter, 2012). With leadership, emphasis is placed on the personal or

organizational cultural narratives, historical influences, and motivations that can hinder or

promote progress. Change catalysts would ultimately like to see a vision not only come to

fruition, but continue to be encouraged and supported. Processes are about what is necessary to

reinforce what is needed. Attitudes and behaviors can be informed by influences that are not

readily identifiable by those who display them. Identifying and addressing those needs requires

intuitiveness that comes with developing emotional intelligence (EQ) and cultural intelligence


Professionally, I had the opportunity to influence change efforts. This change included

switching from a paper, file based system to a paperless system that is more consistent with the

rest of the organization. This change is critical to remaining relevant and timely to the needs of

the university and the applicants. Although apprehensive, there was hesitant agreement that this

was necessary and needed. I was tasked with creating a system in which online data storage

(Ark) is utilized and then provide training for this process. It was a daunting task. There was

meticulous attention to detail and inclusive, on-going communication. Flow charts were

instrumental in indicating current processes and where changes need to be made (see Figure 1).

Updates were also critical to manage the timeliness and effectiveness of implementation (see

Appendix B). Lasting change required the collaborative efforts of three separate offices and a

recognition that implementation would permanently alter communication and work processes.

Introducing a new work flow was going to change our small office culture. With no

organizational or managerial power, there was little reason for anyone to listen to me. Creating

an environment that was conducive to learning was essential to successful outcomes. This was

done through offering continued support through communication and collaboration. Functioning

as a team, there were those who were willing to offer continued support and instruction for those

who were more reticent.

For implementation to be successful it required understanding differences in personal

preference and ingrained biases against technology. Understanding both attitudes and

perspectives towards learning and growth mindset provided useful background information in

formulating the plan and addressing concerns. Knowing that there is an innate fear of technology

and innovation, training was designed to alleviate those fears. Sensitivity to differing mindsets

towards integrating technology required emotional intelligence (EQ). Embedding new

knowledge into what is already known (and comfortable) is an integral component to successful

learning out comes (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 2017). Although, not without occasional

grumbling, this processes is now successfully utilized.

Leadership change efforts begin first with the pursuit personal change (Quinn, 1996). It is

difficult to expect of others what a leader will not do for themselves. Continuing to grow as a

relevant change catalyst involves pursuing and engaging in self-directed goals. It influences

authenticity as a leader. It would difficult to point out changes that need to be made when I am

not willing to engage in change myself. One personal change was a commitment to self-care.

With a love for the outdoors, hiking is a pursuit I enjoy (see Figure 2). Although admittedly this

does not occur frequently enough. Discouraged and defeated, I was unable to participate in an

anticipated backpack trip this summer. Continuing to grow as a relevant change catalyst involves

pursuing and engaging in self-directed goals. Practicing the discipline of exercise and self-care is

a goal that I would wish to pursue to continue to be a relevant change catalyst. The following

steps will be utilized:

1. Pick an activity that I enjoy that requires minimal effort or equipment (walking the


2. Pick a time that is most likely to remain consistent (after work.)

3. Frequency. Begin with once a week, increasing to twice a week after 4 weeks. Re-

evaluate as necessary

4. Partner with friends who are willing to act as accountability partners. Vulnerability to

admit short-comings is also an integral part of the process.

5. Log and record frequency and time to monitor progress.

The process may seem simplistic, but discipline takes effort. Hopefully, that effort will result in a

change in my own attitude.



Bridges, W., (2004). Transitions: Making sense of life’s changes (2nd ed.). De Capo Lifelong


Kotter, J.P. (2012). Leading change. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.

Natemeyer, W. E., & Hersey, P. (2011). Classics of organizational behavior (4th ed.). Long

Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Quinn, R. E. (1996). Deep Change: Discovering the leader within. San Francisco, CA: Josey-


Wlodkowski, R.J. & Ginsberg, M. (2017). Enhancing adult motivation to learn. A

comprehensive guide for teaching all adults (4th ed). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Figure 1: One of the many charts created to gain better understand processes and changes would
need to be implemented.

Figure 2: Attempted hike up Mount Baldy via the Ski Hut in May 2018. I was unable to keep up
with our small group of 10 and eventually turned around. The rest of the group went on to
backpack El Capitan in July of the same year.

Appendix A

Update on paperless (08/01/2017):

We are go for Spring 2018!

ARK training coming soon! (Waiting until Grace gets back from Korea.)

All applications for Spring 2018 have been scanned for UG.

No more printing documents! Please email them to Wendi; can take off the checklist and documents can be
uploaded without printing. (Possible exceptions: housing, etc.)

No using pencil! or highlighters - other than yellow! (If you need to use sticky notes, I can scan them along with
everything else.)

How to search:

1. Open SRM as usual.

2. Search ID / Student Name
3. Click “Ark Images” under “system information” in the application
4. See categories / items looking for
5. Click Peoplesoft for link to PS

If it looks “wonky” in ARK: Click “View in Browser”

If it isn’t there - might have been updated in SRM, but not ARKed, yet. (Check the date.)

Transcripts: Me: checklist; Yuriko: Eval; Me: to Scan

Transfer Evals: No more walking over to Melinda! She looks in ARK, does the eval, sends it back. (UG has a super
complicated system, we are simplified.) For us: When I receive transcripts, I send Melinda or Mika an email after
ARK. Subject line: ID, Last Name, First Name EVAL REQUESTED This will trigger Melinda or Mika to complete the
 Mika: Business, Psychology, Sociology Global Studies, History, Political Science, International Relations,
Social Science
 Melinda: All other majors including Undeclared

Still outstanding:

“Complete - Pending Review” - Spring 2018

“Admit” “Task” or “Escalate to Director” - Yuriko and I need to know when to update PS and SRM; process admit.
Cory to clarify the easiest way to let Yuriko know when to update PS and SRM.

*Need to talk to Brenda, Chris, or Deb noticing that sometimes UG upload our apps and sometimes they don’t. If you
see double apps in ARK, this is why. I did it, and they did it. I can only edit what I uploaded.


 New Goldenrod - contains info for Mary / Anita / VJ for I-20 and student workers for mailing

Appendix B

Deep Change Reflection, Part 2

Opportunities to facilitate and lead change are exciting, daunting, and a little ambiguous.

Currently, there is an opportunity for me to assist in process changes within my department. It is

not without challenges, real and imagined. As Quinn (1996) states, it is impossible to lead

change in any organization without first committing to personal change. Deep change requires

deep commitment. In honesty, I ask myself, am I committed to the success of this change process

and do I believe this change is even possible? Upon the realization that I am currently

experiencing slow death, I have two choices: leave or stay. In choosing to stay, I chose to

change my attitude. It is far easier to blame a nebulous organization, leaders, or outside

influences than it is to acknowledge that the real hindrance is myself. As Quinn states, “the

problem is not ‘out there’ but inside each one of us” (1996, p. 101). Attitudes are infectious.

Therefore, my first commitment to deep change for both myself, my family, and my department,

is an attitude adjustment.

Quinn refers to deep change as a “spiritual process” (1996, p. 78). As a Christian,

integrating personal meaning and values are important aspect of my professional and personal

life. If I truly believe that He has appointed me to this position in the current moment, I must

earnestly seek his wisdom and direction in how to best utilize the skills and personality that He

gave me. Periodically, it is important to reassess current realities and perspectives. With a

grateful attitude, I need to remind myself that I get to come to work today. Admittedly, interests

alter with time and competency development. Having already previously established a personal

mission statement, perhaps it is time for a heart realignment, especially when “(my) core

structures do not seem to integrate well with (my) current life demands” (Quinn, 1996, p. 67).

Prayer, reflection, Bible study, and consulting a spiritual mentor who is familiar with me and my

faith journey can assist in this process.

In an organization that values and appreciates interpersonal relationships, it is important

to develop awareness of my own personal negativity or harsh judgements. Comments that appear

overly critical are perceived more severe as intended. Developing wisdom and discernment

concerning the appropriateness of sharing alternate perspective is an important to sustaining an

open, honest environment where change is encouraged. Recently, there is a new employee in the

department. This opportunity may be change catalyst moment for this person and our team. It

would be irresponsible for me to intentionally (or unintentionally) diminish this person’s

excitement and sabotage potential future outcomes. Individuals need the opportunity to develop

their own experiences and perspectives. Fostering development and encouraging potential

growth opportunities in others is essential to the success of our department. Instead of my critical

analysis, influential moments need to be emphasized as positive opportunities, encouragement

and offer supportive relationship.

Deep change within an organization does not happen alone (Quinn, 1996). Commitment

from all involved is needed and necessary to facilitate change. The need for developed cross-

cultural interpersonal communication skills are critical to successful change endeavors. To

accomplish change, those within the organization need to know that they are seen, valued and

appreciated. It is easy to objectify people. For me, task-oriented behavior becomes routine.

Utilizing my own experience of frequently feeling forgotten or overlooked, it is important to

remember the organization is not the building, but the people in it. Even in my small department

there are competing perspectives and objectives. Establishing relationships facilitates open

communication and cooperation. In remembering to greet people in the morning, asking about

their families, offering to pray for and with them, and finding out about what is important to

them engenders emotional support. A sense of community is developed in shared stories and

experiences. Trust cannot be established without sharing myself and exposing my own


No one is going to empower me to accomplish personal goals. It is my responsibility to

empower myself. It is about giving myself permission to initiate necessary changes. Waiting for

empowerment stagnates change processes. Quinn states, “ultimately, the process (of change)

returns us to the ‘power of one’ and the requirement of aligning and empowering oneself before

successfully changing the organization” (1996, p. 103). It will be difficult to establish validity as

a leader if I do not believe it myself.

As a change agent, it is important to be a role model. In leading change, the first person

to believe in a vision is the one who cast it (Quinn, 1996). “Actions, not words” (are the) “test of

vision, faith, and integrity” (Quinn, 1996, p. 85). Leadership involves risk. If I am risk adverse, I

cannot expect others to reciprocate boldness. To foster participation and involvement requires

the ability to demonstrate desired behaviors and attitudes. I enjoy participating in the unexpected

and celebrating those accomplishments on social media. No one expects a short round mom to

enjoy hiking, camping, backpacking, or embracing a sense of adventure. Challenging

assumptions about myself boosts my own self-confidence. At 42, I experienced my first 30-mile

backpacking experience that included a 12,000ft summit. As the only female adult, I earned

respect from both my male counterparts and reticent moms. I know that I can and will

accomplish seemingly impossible achievements and those that witness these actions know this

about me, too.


Creating an action plan for my own personal goals with achievable milestones will assist

in the intentionality required for self-determination and choice. One personal goal is to be more

welcoming. An action plan is devised around this goal. One aspect of this plan is to wish

someone a good morning. I need to greet people when I arrive at work. One milestone is to greet

at least three people each morning this two out of five mornings per week for two weeks. Second

milestone would be to greet five people four out of five mornings per week for three weeks. The

third milestone would be regularly greeting seven people five days out of the week for four

weeks. Lastly, warmly greet people five days out of the week without the assistance of coffee or

sticky note reminders. Utilizing these opportunities as learning experiences, personal reflection

and feedback should be an integral part of the process (Quinn, 1996). It is important to develop

an accountability network, individuals who can offer honest evaluations and advice. Remaining

teachable, committed to making necessary changes are crucial to establishing needed credibility

and trust. Affecting change is nearly impossible without these attributes.

I have a responsibility to any group in which I am affiliated. In my current situation, there

are behaviors and actions that I can take to assist in the creation and facilitation an empowering

environment. Working with both student workers and staff requires flexibility. For student

workers, maintaining their student experience is important. As an office that is comprised of

student life, immigration services, pastoral care and enrollment, we have differing goals and

objectives. In maintaining continuous strategic alignment, it is important to maintain a supportive

culture. We are interdependent and need one another to succeed. Considering the recent changes

in our own office, clearly defining the vision and purpose for change is critical to success. We

have a common desire to serve, how that manifests itself is different. Drawing on that desire will

assist in implementing needed and necessary changes.


Initial acceptance of these changes has been met with reluctance and fear. Change does

not happen without resistance. In this instance, there is a technology fear. This fear is

acknowledged and concerns addressed. Appropriate training has been offered and continuing

addressing concerns is needed to maintain collaboration. Although I strategically planned the

training to address technological hesitation and objection, I recognize it is not a singular event.

Presentation of changes and a solitary training event are not enough to keep momentum. Regular

meetings and an open-door policy are needed to clarify expectations.

Changes produce conflict, real or highly exaggerated. Potential conflict resolution

involves a willingness to admit mistakes and offer forgiveness. Conflict avoidance, blaming, and

passive-aggressive tendencies are not conducive to successful relationships and task completion.

Adopting a thoughtful, direct, honest approach would prove to be beneficial. This can be

accomplished through prayer, considering the perspective of the other, and establishing

emotional control.

No one likes to be voluntold, least of all me. Reticent people, like me, need

encouragement and to know that our contribution is needed and appreciated. To engender

participation and involvement, I need to ask for suggestions and input that incorporate different

opinions and viewpoints and be willing to share responsibility. It is only through working

together as an empowered team are we able to accomplish the seemingly impossible.




Quinn, R. E. (1996). Deep Change: Discovering the leader within. San Francisco, CA: Josey-