Browsed by
Author: Ulrike

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

Share this:
Stress at work ? The five steps that help to reduce it!

Stress at work ? The five steps that help to reduce it!

Two out of three employees regularly live stress at work.

That’s a lot!

If you are one of them I can only advise you to continue reading.

Our environment has become very demanding. We always have to work more, harder, quicker, with less means and so on. Technology helps us a lot. Unfortunately, at the same time it requires flexibility and an important capacity to permanently adapt to new situations.

And that, for us humans, is exactly the problem. We are not the best champions to adapt. For different reasons, by the way.

First of all, it’s important to understand what exactly is stress.

Initially, if we look back to the evolution of the human being, stress helped us to react instinctively in life-threatening situations. In times that we lived in caves we mainly were threatened by wild animals. In case we were attacked, we had to save our lives by killing the animal (instead of getting killed) or run away. Sometimes, it also helped to freeze and discourage the animal by not moving.

In any case, stress was meant to appear when our live was in jeopardy and when we had to react quickly during a short period of time in order to survive.

Our environment has changed. Unfortunately, this part of our brain that is responsible for our stress reactions, hasn’t changed that much.

But there is one big difference. In normal life we don’t face wild animals anymore.

So what makes us stress then ?

Actually, it’s our interpretation of external messages that our brain receives and that we transform into thoughts (mainly negative or threatening ones) and emotions (very often emotions of fear or anxiety, mistrust or a perception of aggression). The big difference is that the external event or stimulus does not really threaten our life. Unfortunately, our brain doesn’t see the difference between a real threat (the wild animal) and the threat that we create ourselves through our thoughts and our emotions. The reaction is the same: we produce adrenaline and cortisol to prepare our body to react rapidly. In a certain way, it’s a misinterpretation of our brain with the consequence of an incoherent reaction compared to the initial event.

Incoherence is not the only malfunctioning we suffer from in our times. We are also much too long exposed to this kind of incoherent reaction. Our thoughts never stop compared to the wild animal that got killed or ran away.

This long exposure to stress hormones is extremely harmful to our body and our health.

So, what can we do?

Five tips to reduce your stress level:

  1. Become conscious about the fact that our brain is misleading us. Ask yourself questions like these:
    “I stress, which element is really threatening my life here?”
    “What’s really going on with me?”
  2. Change your viewpoint on the situation: “if I’m not in a life-threatening situation, which other interpretation could I give to what I’m going through now?”
  3. Accept things that you cannot change or that you cannot influence (e.g. your boss’s personality) and concentrate on the elements that you can change (e.g. what’s happening in your head).
  4. Look for your interior calm: control your breathing, if necessary, go for a walk, move around. It’s only if you become calm again that you will find a way to get you out of this stress moment.
  5. And finally, once you’re calm, you will be able again to develop a new vision of things that will allow you to find solutions more easily and react differently, without stress, without smashing doors or getting lost in your emotions.

Easy to say, you probably think now.

In that case, I can assure you that it’s possible to learn. Not from one day to the other, but step by step, slowly but certainly you will become more and more conscious that you have the choice to react differently.

If it doesn’t seem easy to you I can only invite you to let you accompany during this period of personal change and development. You can do so by following one of our webinars or courses or through personal coaching on this topic.

Follow us on Facebook or link through LinkedIn to be kept informed about the different events or simply contact us for more information. It’s for free and without any obligations.

And if you have friends that are easily stressed, share this information with them.

Share this:
Happiness does not help to create healthier work environments!

Happiness does not help to create healthier work environments!

Thanks to a recent survey from Robert Half conducted in 8 different countries with over 23.000 respondents we now know that American and German workers are the happiest ones and Belgian and French are the unhappiest ones.

At the same time this survey tells us that Germans take the most interest in their jobs but they are also the most stressed ones at their work whereas the Dutch workers are second at being interested in their job and they have the lowest stress level of all.

Belgians and French are somewhere in the middle of the indicator of interest in their work with a rather high level of stress.

Reading these results I was wondering what is the link between happiness at work and stress?

If we look into the definitions of Wikipedia we find what is happiness (limited to the psychological part of the definition): “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy”

And what is stress: “In psychology, stress is a feeling of strain and pressure. …

Stress can be external and related to the environment, but may also be created by internal perceptions that cause an individual to experience anxiety or other negative emotions surrounding a situation, such as pressure, discomfort, etc., which they then deem stressful.

Humans experience stress, or perceive things as threatening, when they do not believe that their resources for coping with obstacles (stimuli, people, situations, etc.) are enough for what the circumstances demand. When we think the demands being placed on us exceed our ability to cope, we then perceive stress.”

Too many negative emotions for a long time create illness. That’s no secret. But if we cannot decrease negative emotions by increasing positive emotions we can only decrease stress by reducing the stress factors that created it.

In other words: happiness does not help us to create healthier work environments.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t say that we should not work on happiness at work. It certainly has a positive impact on motivation and engagement but not on reducing stress.

If it’s not happiness that we need, what do we need to reduce stress?

Touching the ground of negative emotions, as the definition of stress tells us, we perceive things as threatening because we judge that we are not capable to handle them.

On what do we base our judgment? On our instinct, programmed millions of years ago when we had to fight or run away from the savage wildlife.

Actually, the typical human stress reaction that we know as the 3 F (fight, flight or freeze) were very useful when we lived in caves and were threatened by dangerous animals. Unfortunately this part of our brain has not changed over the years, whereas our environment has: we don’t live in caves anymore but in a demanding VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment. So today, we perceive our boss, colleague, client, or even our thoughts, as « dangerous animals » and our brain just reacts as if we were facing a life- threatening situation. Our brain doesn’t see the difference.

We need to learn to react differently.

To reduce stress we need to understand how the human brain works and get out of our automatic reply. Our managers, colleagues, clients and our own thoughts are no bears or tigers. As individuals we need to learn to identify what triggers us and instead of reacting immediately in an instinctive way we need to ask ourselves some crucial questions:

  • Am I really in a life-threatening situation?
  • What does really trigger my stress reaction?
  • What alternatives do I have?
  • What decision could I take towards this situation that helps me to see things differently?

By seeing things differently you actually use a different part of your brain; you mainly move your brain activities from the instinctive part to the adaptive part that helps you to be more creative and more flexible and to decrease stress. (cfr neuro-cognitive approach).

In my opinion, if we learn more about how the human brain functions and learn how to use our adaptive brain, in combination with a company culture of communication (talking to each other), empathy (understanding each other) and collaboration (working with each other) we will certainly decrease the general stress level.

If the increase of happiness does not decrease stress, on the contrary, decreasing stress helps us to free room for more happiness.

Share this:
It’s February: how far are you with your New Year’s resolutions 2017?

It’s February: how far are you with your New Year’s resolutions 2017?

Blog 1 nex year resolutions

Do you also have New Year’s resolutions every start of a new year?

I think that we are many having this dream to change something important for us at the beginning of a year.

New year = new start … does this sound familiar to you?

These good ideas and intentions we have:

  • I will eat less sugar, drink less alcohol or anything like this
  • I will do more sports and we start to run every second day
  • I will work less to reduce my stress level
  • Do more of this …and less of that …

Most of us start very enthusiastically to change their behaviour in January, go for a run, eat more veggies, refuse the last beer or might even have the courage to subscribe to the gym with the attractive promotion for a “one-year subscription”; mainly thinking “I will hold on for a whole year, yes I can!”.

How far did you get?

We are one month later now and which of your New Year’s Resolutions have survived so far? It’s only you that has the honest answer. But don’t get frustrated if you haven’t got very far. Be aware that you’re not the only one that abandoned already during the first month.

Why do people stop or get stuck?

The question is WYH? Why do most New Year’s resolutions don’t get as far as we would like them to go? To be honest with you. I think, this concept doesn’t really work.

It’s more of a tradition then a real trigger for change. The moment of the year gives us a feeling of “now or never” and you get started. But the motivator isn’t right.

“Tradition” is not strong enough for a person to hold on. In reality, as soon as we have the feeling that the real newness of New Year is over (that means at the latest in February or in other words now) our resolutions already start to weaken if they have not been abandoned yet.

How impactful is your driver for change?

If you really want to change something in your life the most important aspect is that the driver is ‘you’ and not any, from outside coming, influence such as tradition, the word of the others or, even worse, bad consciousness. So, the real question is not “what do you want to change in your life” but rather “where do you want to stand next year”, “how do you want to feel about something, look like next year” or simply “how do you want to be next year”. That means instead of being pushed by an outside stimulus (tradition or “the others”) you need to fix your personal objectives.

You have to be aware that change can only come from your deepest inside. And real change mainly emerges from a crisis. You might have eaten and drunk too much with all the parties of the end of the year but is that “crisis” enough to really modify your behaviour over a longer period of time or even speaking of a lifetime period? If the answer is yes, you might hold on longer. In most cases, I guess, the answer will be no, as long as e.g. no health issues get involved or no positive goal in the future is linked to the motivation.

Often, we emphasize the behaviour we want to change without having a real objective. Actually, the objective is key and is linked to the above questions. Your objective needs to be positive (e.g. it’s not “I want to lose weight” or “I want to stop smoking” but “I want to become a person that feels healthy and full of energy” or you get yourself an event that motivates you “I want to be able to participate in a 10 – 15 – 20 km run or even a marathon this year”).

You need SMARTEC objectives to get there

Besides positive, your objective needs to be SMARTEC. You’ve probably heard of SMART objectives (simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and time limited). I add the E for ecological for your system and C for 100% under your control. Positive SMARTEC objectives have the biggest chance to be reached.

The next challenge is to dose your enthusiasm. Most of us start too heavily and rapidly get exhausted by their new behaviour. This happens because 1) our mind-set is programmed on short-term result – remember: New Year only lasts a month and we’re impatient to see the results and 2) emotionally we are not ready. Every bigger change starts with an emotional change. If we do not feel this emotional change, even if it’s only a tiny little change, the chance to succeed is limited.

So allow yourself to go slowly. One step at the time. And reward yourself. Acknowledge your progress but also be aware that you will live with ups and downs. Stagnation or even sometimes regression in a change process is part of it. It becomes a problem when you don’t ask yourself what’s going on, why don’t you progress anymore. And in that case don’t be too hard on yourself but be honest with yourself.


When you get stuck, not in your New Year’s resolutions but in the real change you want to lead, a coach can help you to reach your objective. With a new view on how to get there, together, hand in hand, a coach can help you to hold on or to get up again and to continue the new path you’ve chosen.

If you recognize yourself in any way in this kind of situation, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’ll support you on your way to a new destination.

In any case, I wish to all of you plenty of success with your projects of 2017. And if you don’t participate in New Year’s resolutions be aware that there are only few of us that don’t want to change anything in their life. And, actually, you can do a first step towards change any day of the year. Don’t wait until the next January 1st.


Share this: