Six steps to leading change through the use of self by Carrie Foster

Carrie Foster

Carrie Foster, OD Practitioner and Author of “Organisational Design in Business: A New Alternative For A Complex World”, “Designing Learning and Development for Return on Investment” outlines six key steps to leading change through the ‘use of self’. Carrie is presenting at the CIPD Organisation Development Conference which takes place on 24-25 September 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.



Self as instrument is a critical component of OD practice because an OD approach to change is unashamedly humanistic, and focused on engaging the human element in the organisation to move the organisation from where it is to where it needs to go. Leveraging the Use of Self requires the OD practitioner to engage people to be the change the organisation is looking for through relationship – relationship with other people, and relationship with the organisational environment.  


There are six key steps to leading change through the use of self:


1. Establishing a helping relationship

The quality of our relationships with people in the organisation and being responsive to the needs of people we are working with is essential to tackling change.


2. Utilising a gestalt methodology to draw on presence

Not only do we know the theories and practices we need to be a living embodiment of them.  OD should be manifest in our practice and the way we practice our craft is a symbol of that embodiment, implied in our actions, words and interactions.


3. Make ourselves indistinguishable from the intervention method we choose to use

OD practitioners are human and we embody that approach using a human approach to change. This means refining our self-knowledge to such an extent that there is no distinction between the intervention method we choose to use or ourselves as a leader of change. To do this we must develop an ability to let go, to enter into a place of vulnerability, unafraid of unknowns and weakness, confident in who we are and willing to be exposed for what we are not. It is our own positive core that is elemental in inspiring and motivating other people.


4. Facilitating the flow of instrumentality

Instrumentality means more than great interpersonal skills and in-depth knowledge of OD, it means that your very presence in the organisation and, in the room, will result in change becoming around you. Our responses to human interaction within the room, and our role in directing the flow of that interaction will facilitate the progress to the next step in the change journey. 


5. Serve others

Our role as OD practitioners is not to have a predestined route that demands that first this will happen and then that will happen, instead we serve and enable the participants within the change process to find their own route to the destination. 


6. Partnering with the powerful 

It is impossible to lead change without having access to, and influencing, those who hold power within the organisation. This requires building relationships and transparency in addressing issues that are affecting the change process and being creative in utilising power without descending into inefficient and unproductive organisational politicking.

It is incumbent on the OD practitioner to refine their skill and experience to make the leap from facilitating into the flow of instrumentality.  Therefore, leveraging self is the development of relationships with others where just by being in our presence people will pursue the best of themselves. In turn, we as OD practitioners will seek the best of ourselves in a continual cycle of pursuing self-knowledge, self-development, and refinement to release our true potential.


Carrie is presenting in the session titled “Workshop: leveraging the ‘use of self’ to become a powerful instrument of change” at the CIPD Organisation Development Conference which takes place on 24-25 September 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.