A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction but is not consumed in the process. The catalyst is generally used in much smaller amounts than the other chemicals in the reaction. Some of the most common catalysts in everyday life are the platinum, rhodium, and palladium in the catalytic converters on automobiles. Very small amounts of these rare and expensive metals speed the conversion of dangerous nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide into less harmful compounds.
Being a Catalyst
We can add a lot of value by being a positive catalyst. The term catalyst comes from the world of chemistry, but in business it has come to describe a person who accelerates, activates, or otherwise increases the rate of reaction to a situation. It’s someone who, through his or her proactive dialogue or action, causes an important (and presumably beneficial) event to occur. Catalysts can trigger negative events, too, but that’s not the kind of catalyst I suggest being. :-)
A good catalyst is worth his or her weight in gold. The right thing, said at the right time, can save an organization or give it a new and exciting direction.
Organizations can be dysfunctional at times. A group of intelligent and well meaning professionals can go through an entire meeting without one of them acknowledging the elephant that is sitting in the corner (something that is obvious but no one is saying). A team can plan and implemented a flawed project because no one asked the right challenging questions.
Managers and leaders are in a great position to be catalysts because we know what’s going on in the organization. We can ask the innocent (rarely innocent) questions that help managers, peers, and team members avoid a disaster or realize a new opportunity.
We can learn to become better catalysts by practicing being curious, proactive, observant, and courageous.
Very small amounts of these rare behaviors speed the progress of the organization.
Be a catalyst today and make something happen.
Caused quite a ruckus today