Beth Wilkins
Beth Wilkins says change agents must possess a humble disposition, live their values, and show deep concern for others.

Be ‘positively deviant’

#HRODVirtual speaker offers recipe for leading organization change.

April 23, 2021

Successful organizational change requires more than benchmarks and guidelines. Without the proper mindset and people skills, the best-intentioned plans risk long-term failure.

Consultant Beth Wilkins provided attendees of the 2021 CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council Virtual Conference with insights for becoming change agents within their organizations.

Leading change doesn’t require authority or position, but personal power, she says, using the analogy of dance.

CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council

“Change agents must have the courage to dance a little differently,” Wilkins says.

She says change agents have a humble disposition, live their values, and show deep concern for others.

A positive disposition also makes a difference. Wilkins advises leaders to focus on what’s going well five times more than what’s not going well, and to be “positively deviant.”

Some key takeaways from her presentation:

  • Prepare yourself to be a change agent. Wilkins calls this the “mind and heart work” that requires change leaders to have the courage to be at the forefront of new ways of thinking within their organizations.
  • Identify key stakeholders within the organization. This requires research, including focus groups, interviews, and quantitative research.
  • Find a compelling shared purpose. This is the result of sharing the new vision with key stakeholders and obtaining their buy-in.
  • Develop high-quality connections. “When you have good relationships and people trust you, it makes guiding them through change so much easier,” Wilkins says.
  • Be proactive and help others take initiative. If you’re implementing changes, you have to do change your behavior and help others do the same.
  • Hold up success and learn from failure. Too many organizations focus on failure, which is detrimental at a time when innovation is so important, Wilkins says.
  • Codify learning to sustain change. Organizations can’t make sustainable change unless it’s systemized and built upon.
  • Express gratitude often. “People work hard and go through a lot when there’s disruption,” Wilkins says. “They need see that what they’re doing is recognized and valued.”

Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage and view event highlights on Twitter via the #HRODCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA HR & Organizational Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at