Change Catalyst: Initiating or Managing Change

At some point in your educational experiences you probably learned about catalysts.  By definition, a catalyst is some type of agent that promotes or speeds up significant change.  In the world of chemistry, catalysts are extremely helpful—but in business, they are surprisingly beneficial too.

Lee Iacocca is an excellent example of an individual who became an agent of change in his industry.  After beginning his career as an engineering trainee at Ford Motor Company, Iacocca switched to sales and quickly excelled in both sales and marketing.  Ford executives took note, and, in 1960, they promoted the 36-year-old Iacocca to vice-president and general manager of the Ford division.

This new position became a platform for Lee Iacocca to continue exploring his abilities to initiate and manage change.  In the early 60s, he convinced Ford executives that they needed to develop a car to capitalize on the youth market.  In 1964, the Ford Mustang debuted, and it has been an iconic American automobile ever since. When Iacocca took over the floundering Chrysler company in the 1980s, he helped develop another new vehicle:  the minivan. His assistance in turning around Chrysler made him a hero to many, and his impact on the automotive industry can in part be attributed to his extraordinary abilities as a Change Catalyst.

Change Catalyst happens to be one of twenty-five characteristics that define an individual’s EQ (Emotional Quotient).  In LEADon® terminology, this invaluable EQ characteristic can be broken down into two basic skills:

  1. The ability to initiate change
  2. The ability to manage change

It’s critical to understand the connection these two skills have because they are diverse, yet complementary.  They also happen to be essential skills that any exceptional leader must hone. For instance, if Lee Iacocca had merely envisioned the Ford Mustang but couldn’t manage the design, production, or marketing teams, the likelihood of its overwhelming reception—including making the covers of both Time and Newsweek—would have been slim to none.  Likewise, having the ability to manage individuals and teams in a Corporate Family® like Chrysler would never have been enough to bring that organization out of its debt debacle that had reached $5 billion (for more on his legacy, see Krishner and Durbin’s July 2019 article, “Former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca Has Died at Age 94” at

If you are unsure of your abilities when it comes to the EQ characteristic known as Change Catalyst, here are a few ways to get an accurate assessment:

  • Ask your colleagues at work about your abilities to initiate change. Do they see this as an area of strength for you, or not?
  • Ask these same colleagues how they would assess your ability to manage changes when they occur. Do they have examples of when you’ve excelled?  Can they list some situations where you have struggled?
  • Take these same questions to people in your personal life—friends and family. At LEADon®, we always remind people that good leadership is personal first, then professional.  What kind of feedback do these individuals have about how you initiate and manage change?
  • If you haven’t done so, take LEADon’s® proprietary online EQ assessment. The Developing Emotional Competency Questionnaire® (DECQ®) takes approximately thirty minutes to complete, and you will receive immediate feedback about your strengths and weaknesses in all twenty-five EQ characteristics, including Change Catalyst.

Your DECQ® scores are personal and confidential, and you can use them to develop an action plan to address any areas of weakness.  Upon completion of the DECQ®, specific LEADon University® courses that correspond to the twenty-five EQ characteristics will be provided so you can target skill sets that need development.  For example, to improve in the area of Change Catalyst, we suggest taking LEADing by Fasttracking Transformation® and LEADers Set Effective G.O.A.L.S.® (see for more information).

Since the ability to initiate and manage change is part of everyone’s EQ DNA, you and your team members can improve your personal and professional abilities in the area of Change Catalyst.  If the team at LEADon® can help fuel these efforts, please contact us at 858.592.0700 or