From mind shift to leader shift or How to succeed in organizational transformation?

From mind shift to leader shift or How to succeed in organizational transformation?

60 – 70% of all changes introduced today are failing because of a gap between imposed organizational methodology and a lack of leadership capacity to really bring these changes to success and leaders to adapt themselves to the methodologies they introduce.

If you’d rather be part of the other 30 – 40% that guide change to success, start with a mind shift in leadership and anchor the new way of acting in a sustainable way.

How to achieve a successful switchfrom traditional organizational functioning to an agile, collaborative or even sociocratic functioning (cfr meaning of “teal organizations”)?

All successful change starts with a switch in the way leadership is guided at the top of the organization. Simply introduce a new working methodology or a new way of working is not enough. Per definition, these organizational changes touch deep values and therefor leaders not only have to change the way they act and behave, they have to change the way they ARE. When you touch values of a company, you also touch the values of the people inside the organization. And when you change values you change the way you are.

In today’s world, organizations need to be flexible and be able to act and react rapidly in markets that move at an accelerating pace. It’s a movement we cannot stop. And the idea to introduce methodologies and processes to support this ability to actare certainly useful. We need agile ways of working, ADKAR(which is based on the principle of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement) as a change management methodology, Design thinking approaches to accelerate innovation, collaborative ways to strengthen the way we work together. All these are oriented towards the organization reaching their targets faster and, what we think, in a better and more efficient way.

But the “better and more efficient way” is a myth as long as you do not integrate a serious and profound program to accompany the leaders of the organization in their path of value change. Because most Humans are per definition not agile, are inflexible and change adverse, even leaders who they think they are flexible and agile themselves, in reality will need to change their own behavior and even more important their value system if they want to lead their organization towards a new way of working.

The observations we make of today’s organizations are proof enough of inadequate leadership: increased levels of stress, anxiety, burn-out, long-term sick leaves, demotivation to name a few. Finally, we even do not really reach the defined business targets or at least we underestimate the damage we cause on the way to meeting these targets.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

We think that our leaders, having taken the decision to switch to mobile working, agile working, change working, … whatever new way of working are ready themselves to guide these changes. We work with change managers that are trained in agile methodologies, collaborative ways of working, design thinking methodologies, ADKAR and many more. And all this is very useful, no doubt. But we forget that most of these leaders are not really, fully ready for these changes themselves. They underestimate that their way of working first needs a serious mind shift which will not be reached without external help. And you need brain-based approaches to reach this mind shift and to learn to act accordingly. It is even not enough to think differently, it’s important to act and behave differently and to change your inner values. This is the most difficult part in the introduction of all change. If you want to make people act differently, as a leader, you need to change yourself first.

Change can only be successful if you have gone through a sustainable, humanly ecological and sane way to become a different and, we would claim, a better leader.

How to reach this shift in being? How to become a different leader that guides change to success?

Here are the 6 inevitable steps to leader shift:

  1. Self-reflection: Define your KBI’s (Key behavior indicators): what behavior as a leader do you need to guide the defined change and in what way does this touch your deepest values?
  2. Consciousness: Which of these KBI’s and values do you already have instinctively and automatically and are recognized as such by the whole organization?
  3. Gap analysis: which KBI’s and values do you not yet embodybut are essential to succeed in change?
  4. Obstacle analysis: What hinders you today to fully integrate these values and make a habit of these behaviors in your way of being?
  5. Change definition: Define how to change your present way of being?
  6. From mind shift to behavior shift to leader shift: revise your values and create new habits: become a new YOU = a leader that guides the defined change successfully. Be yourself the change you want to introduce in your organization (I’m not the first one to say this, I guess you know, but it still is a truth in my eyes). From thinking differently towards acting differently and finally being different.

This is a long path but it always starts with self-reflection. Think of a change you would like to make, and then think of implementing this.  What will your company or team tell me if I ask them to describe what has changed visibly in your behavior as a leader since change has been announced? And in what way would your changed behavior have helped them in their new way of working?

If you succeed in transforming your value change into tangible change of behavior, you are on your way to becoming one of the 30-40% leaders who will develop the leadership capability to successfully tackle the future and bring about personal and organizational success. As a leader you can never enforce change you can only change yourself and be the example to follow.  And you will observe that your targeted change will come true successfully.

It’s not about what you say as a leader it’s about who you are and how you make others feel as a leader that makes the difference. That is what change is all about.


Ulrike Hanig – Human Change Facilitator

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