Great Leaders are “Catalysts for Change!”

Great Leaders are “Catalysts for Change!”

Three weeks ago, my wife and I went to New York City for business and pleasure. I found the trip very eye opening. Everywhere I turned I found people being what I called Catalysts for Change – seeing a future possibility and turning it into a reality.

Whether is was the American Museum of Modern History, the Brooklyn Bridge, or the new construction in Hudson Yards – I saw people being Catalysts for Change.


Ways of Being a “Catalyst for Change”:

  1. Creative – where others see a problem(s), the Catalyst for Change sees a possibility to bring something new into existence
  2. Commitment – a Catalyst for Change will take a stand with a commitment to make a difference for good and they are willing to commit time to bringing a possibility to reality
  3. Courage – a Catalyst for Change will find the courage to step into the unknown and use their voice in generative ways (action-oriented) to turn their idea (their possibility) into action by enrolling others into their possibility to make it a reality.

While in NYC, my wife and I walked the “High Line” in Chelsea (neighbourhood in lower Manhattan). The “High Line” is an abandoned elevated rail line that runs from lower Manhattan into the meat packing district.

In 1999, the city and many local people became tired of this rusted out abandoned rail line running through their neighbourhood. They wanted this eye-sore metal structure demolished so they could re-purpose the land.

Then 3 “Catalysts for Change” stepped in and transformed history in Chelsea.

First Peter Obletz a resident of Chelsea challenged the demolition efforts in the court and won to save the elevated rail line.

Then two architects (Joshua David & Robert Hammond) heard about what Peter Obletz was doing and they saw a new possibility for the abandoned elevated rail line; they saw the possibility of a beautiful park filled with indigenous plants and trees of the area.

From the initial efforts of these three “Catalysts for Change”, today there is a beautiful walking park in Chelsea that is free for all to walk the High Line and to enjoy its beauty. This is a fascinating story of how three people chose to see a future possibility and make a difference for the good of their neighbourhood.

Friends of the High Line 

Enrolling the Naysayers in Future Possibilities

How do you enroll naysayers to see a vision and want to take an action?

  1. Design Generative Conversations
  2. Intentional About Speaking into Another Person’s Listening
  3. Courageous Enough to Stand Alone for What You Believe is the Right Thing to do

When designing a Generative Conversation (action-oriented), you want to be intentional about speaking into another person’s listening (what they care about) and create a dialogue conversation to transform your possibility into reality (courage to take a stand).


Your Leadership Challenge:

Be a Catalyst for Change by being a designer of a generative question that shifts others’ perspective to your possibility. The question must speak into a person’s or a group of peoples’ listening such that a conversation occurs that creates new possibilities for your idea.

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