What does ‘catalyst’ refer to in the work environment?
In a business context, a catalyst is an innovative and creative employee. They are capable of coming up with precise ideas about moving forward even during more uncertain times such as the one we are currently experiencing with COVID-19. It’s important to be able to identify these individuals in order to give new momentum to or provide continuity for the projects of your organization.
In the world of business of 2021, the “catalyst” has all the makings of employee of the year. They are curious, with a seemingly limitless ability to come up with and propose groundbreaking and positive ideas, and an ability to project themselves into the future and to delineate a precise vision, almost destabilizing by its accuracy. According to media outlet Fast Company, catalysts have the “natural ability to create positive visions of the future in a sea of uncertainty and help drive organizations towards that better future.”
These catalysts are agents of change. They are indispensable pillars for the adoption of a new vision or new projects, which many of their colleagues do not see clearly. But how can one recognize a catalyst? They are often impatient with the current state of affairs, and their activity can make others dizzy. Their pace is frenetic. They come up with ideas, and they are often described at best as original and at worst as marginal.
However, the greatest difficulty is not identifying them within the teams, but rather giving them enough space to express themselves because they have real leadership qualities as well as a desire to change things to do them better.
“They would with their infectious attitude towards change be able to convince those who are skeptical about the change initiatives,” says the educational portal Management Study Guide (MSG).
Catalysts for imagining the post-COVID world
These catalysts become all the more important in periods of transition. A change in corporate culture, a new manager or dealing with issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, these employees are key for confronting organizational upheavals and finding a way to navigate through the “sea of uncertainty.”
As Fast Company reminds us, the catalyst’s qualities and skills are in line with thriving in a time of “VUCA,” which pandemic-era 2020 is a perfect example of. Initially, this military term was used by the US Army War College in the 1990s to describe adapting to the end of the Cold War.
The acronym VUCA is used to describe a complex and uncertain world that is changing rapidly and therefore to help define the axes that companies can use to improve their leadership and management within such a context. VUCA stands for volatility (decisions to be taken in a situation and adjustments to be made according to its evolution); uncertainty (the uncertainty that governs a company regarding the consequences of the appearance of an unexpected competitor in its market); complexity (the complexity of interacting with a greater number of players, companies, sectors) and ambiguity (not necessarily distinguishing between cause and effect relationships).
This acronym defines our ever-changing lifestyles, with the four letters serving as a kind of guide in a changing world.
So to respond to the changes created by the pandemic and the challenges that businesses are facing to survive and continue to innovate, these catalysts seem to be the visionaries you need to have with you. JB