Summary: Becoming a Changemaker By Alex Budak
Summary: Becoming a Changemaker By Alex Budak

Summary: Becoming a Changemaker By Alex Budak

Question the Status Quo

Curiosity can be learned, and being able and willing to see the world a bit differently. Curiosity can create so many new possibilities. Changemaking is not simply about taking more risks; it’s about taking more smart risks.

When everyone is headed in one direction, this is often a sign that it’s worth thinking about what the opposite direction might make possible. We can identify when to use divergent thinking—coming up with lots of new ideas—and when to use convergent thinking to decide on a single course of action


Confidence Without Attitude

Humility is a strength, not a weakness. Data show that humble leaders have much better outcomes on everything from revenue to team engagement. Gaining trust often requires offering your own trust first. Get off the leadership merry-go-round and see if there are ways you can step back and give your trust to others (while protecting against the downside).

True collaboration happens at that sweet spot where both you and the others are all actively advocating for your own needs while also finding ways to meet others’ interests, leading to win-win solutions for all.


Beyond Yourself

Servant leadership is simultaneously an ancient practice and a highly effective modern approach to management. It’s never too late to embed a sense of ethics into the work you do.

Changemaking requires a long-term mindset—it’s a marathon, not a sprint—and the data show that being able to take a long-term view will improve your chances of realizing lasting change. Don’t be afraid of having an ambitious vision. It will differentiate you from others and inspire people to join you on your change initiative.


Students Always

Remain clear on your why but flexible on the how of achieving it. Changemakers practice three kinds of adaptability: cognitive, emotional, and dispositional, with dispositional being especially important for leading change initiatives.

Resilience is staying strong for the long haul, and your deliberate practices across the physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions will help you thrive when facing challenges.


Reinventing Leadership

Increasingly, change is being made not by a single person but by a network. Embrace network-based leadership to create more resilient, sustainable change movements.

Our values aren’t there for the easy decisions; they are there for the really hard ones. Lean into your values when times get tough. If you feel uncomfortable in a new leadership position and feel pressured to have all the answers, focus on asking really great questions.



Microleadership breaks leadership down into its simplest and most profound unit: leadership moments. You can seize these moments whenever they arise; you don’t need permission to practice microleadership.

Influencing can sometimes feel sleazy, but by practicing influence superpowers like investing in relationships, employing empathy, and making it safe for others, you can influence effectively in honest and transparent ways.


Becoming the Leader You Wish You Had

Psychological safety is the most important success factor Google found among its teams. It’s characterized by a feeling of mutual trust and respect, where risk-taking is embraced and where it’s clear that the team will not embarrass or reject someone for speaking up.

The most powerful way to be an inclusive leader is to combine a recognition of our biases with the humility to know we need to work on them. Bringing a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to our changemaker work is not only the right thing to do; it also increases the chances of innovation and solutions that will work for more people.


Sparking Change: From Idea to Action

Action is how you put your changemaker mindset and changemaker leadership skills into practice to create impact. Before you start a new initiative, challenge yourself to see the existing obstacles in a fresh light and to examine whether existing resources can be used in a new way.

Whether your idea comes from data-informed research or your own lived experience, you can use the lean startup model of build-measure-learn to test ideas early and often. Don’t go for a discount skydive!


Leading Change When Change Is Hard

Get champions of your change initiatives involved early through delegation. Engage cynics by hearing them out and perhaps even making a smaller ask of them. Through norm entrepreneurship, you can lead culture change from wherever you are, both through formal and informal means.

As a changemaker, you will be fighting the status quo bias. Be prepared to put in extra effort to overcome the many obstacles you may face.


The Changemaker Canvas

No matter what type of change we are leading, it can feel really overwhelming, especially at the beginning. Start with your why. Why are you committing your most scarce resource—your time—into creating this change?

Your change will be powered through and with others, but remember to engage others in the process in different ways, from evangelists, who might provide approval or “social proof,” to members of your coalition, who you will engage as collaborators.