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Insight #6: Change the Conversation

This is the fourteenth in a series of posts that will examine ten insights Community Wealth Partners has uncovered through our research of and experience with initiatives that have created transformational social change.

Sometimes the most powerful thing a leader can do is change the conversation, which ultimately changes the outcome. We found that leaders who are working toward transformational change are especially skilled at this—and they have the courage to do it, when it’s most needed. Rather than getting stuck in the weeds of the status quo, they reframe what’s being talked about and ultimately this drives behavior change and results.

Here are a few quick tips on changing the conversation:

  • When is it time to change the conversation? It’s time to change a conversation when behavior isn’t changing and/or progress isn’t being made. This can be applied at both a micro and macro level. On the micro level, perhaps it’s about changing the conversation with a funder whose funding processes aren’t conducive to your ability to achieve transformational change. Rather than talk about the funding process, focus with that funder on talking about what’s really required for you to achieve that big change you want to see in the world.   On a macro level, it might be about reframing the national dialogue around the issue you are working to transform.
  • What should be the focus of the new conversation? To successfully engage others in the conversation, you have to talk about something that really matters to people. And, I would argue it has to speak to both their rationale and their emotional sides—the head and the heart.
  • How do you really make it happen? The “how” is critical because those who change the conversation will experience resistance. I recently read a blog post by Dan Waldschmidt, who is considered an unconventional business strategist, and he highlights this very point and suggests that the key to success is to pull when you’re pushed, rather than push back. He has a nine-step process for how to do this, which is quite clever.

In our subsequent posts, we’ll share some specific examples. We also invite you to share examples of how you have changed the conversation.

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Amy Celep

About Amy Celep

As CEO of Community Wealth Partners, Amy Celep guides the organization’s strategic direction and oversees its more than 20 employees in their efforts to support partners in solving problems at the magnitude they exist. Amy was named to this role in April 2010, and since then has led the organization in developing and implementing a new strategy for greater impact, while achieving 50 percent revenue growth and securing a marquee list of partners. See Amy's full bio

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