Catalysts for Change

Throughout history, there have been people who have said, "This is not the way it should be", and have had the courage to offer an alternative and not give up even when it appeared there was no hope of change.

Like the pebble that begins a landslide, catalysts for change create space where a new reality can be considered, and this gathers momentum until what wasn't working has been replaced by something new.

It is hard to think about catalysts for change, champions for change, and not also think about leadership. 

"Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth"

by James MacGregor Burns

 We often think of leaders as "The person in charge", the one who tells others what to do.

However, that thinking has evolved to recognise that leaders are also the ones to listen, take time to understand, create a common vision and mobilise people's enthusiasm towards making that vision real.

The group is in charge. The leader serves the group to support it achieve what matters to it through collective action.

Leadership and catalysts for change are perhaps then very similar.

The status quo no longer is fit for purpose, and something needs to change. However, change, even for the better, can meet resistance.

There needs to be something more than just saying 'we need to change this,' there needs to be a sense of; what are we changing it to, whose vision is this, who is onboard, how do we maintain enthusiasm and momentum and take forward the actions to move to that new state of being.

Where do we find the courage when we are told it won't work, but don't give up as we look for other ways to resolve the challenge of where we are and where we need to be.


As with anything in life, it is easier to find yourself in a change maker role if you have peers who are also change makers who can support you when your energy is low and inspire you to keep going.

It may be that we cannot gain access to some of the people we need, which helps support change.

Still, we can build relationships with others who perhaps can help open the doors we find are closed or who already have a seat at the table where ideas can be taken forward into action.

Being a catalyst for change creates conditions where the "collective we" brings about sustained change going forward.

COPEScotland, inspired by a Network Weaving Learning series and attended by the Q Community, is working with partners on a Network Knowledge Exchange. 

This is a place to share ideas, receive support around improving our skills, understandings of networks and how we weave networks and our roles within them.

Networks too can be catalysts for change; however, networks are made up of individuals who work collectively for the common good.

Never underestimate the power we individually have to make a difference.

"I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a 'transformer' in any situation, any organisation. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader."

by Stephen Covey

The following inspirational postcards were co designed with some inspiring nurses who seek to be catalysts for change.

We hope you find them of interest and if you would like to learn more about the Network Knowledge exchange or Network Weaving, please get in touch.

One thing to remember about being a catalyst is that when the change happens, and you walk away, others now own it and take it forward.

This was never about us as a catalyst but what we could help others achieve.

"Of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, They will say, "We did this ourselves." 

by Lao Tzu