Change leader, change thyself
Companies that only look outward in the process of organizational change, and dismiss individual learning and adaptation make two common mistakes:
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“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Organizations don’t change. People change. Many companies move to change systems and structures and create new policies and processes but fail to address the underlying mind-sets and capabilities of the people who will execute it.
A new strategy will fall short of its potential if they fail to address the mental attitude because people on the ground tend to continue to behave as they did before.
Individuals have their own beliefs, priorities, values, and fears that influence how they respond to different actions. Looking inward is then a way to examine your own modes of operating to learn what makes you behave in a certain way.
Those who seek to lead effectively should look at their internal experiences because it will direct how they take action, whether they are aware of it or not.
There are two dimensions of looking inward that lead to self-understanding.
State awareness is more than just "a state of mind." It involves the perception of a wide range of inner experiences in the present moment and the impact on your behavior.
Many senior executives know that they show negative behavior under pressure, but are not aware that they continue that behavior until well after they've started to do so.
Learning to look inward in the process of organizational transformation helps individuals to align what they intend with what they actually say and do, to influence others. This is known as the performance gap.
This kind of learning awakens the full leader within you. It expands your capacity to lead human change and deliver a real impact.
It is not enough to use various assessment tools, because we all possess the full range of qualities these assessments identify to varying degrees. You need a more nuanced approach that recognizes your inner complexity. Some questions would include:
Map the Big Four. The Big Four can be thought of as an internal leadership team that occupies an internal executive suite:
Your ability to use the right inner executive at the right time for the right purpose will make you able to harness its specific strengths and skills to meet a situation.
People who fail to notice when they are becoming annoyed, judgmental, or defensive in the moment are not choosing how to behave. We all need an inner "lookout."
It is critical during a period of organizational change that the senior executives collectively adopt the lookout role for the organization as a whole to allow for more effective leadership behavior.
Translate awareness into organizational change. Those open eyes will be better able to spot obstacles to organizational change.
For instance, a company becomes aware that the absence of coaching is stifling progress. When looking deeper, it is established that there is a negative bias towards coaching that prevents the use of it. Changing the prevalent element of corporate culture will ultimately lead to moving toward achieving its goals.
While dealing with resistance and fear is often necessary, it’s rarely enough to take an organization to the next level. Organizations must unlock the full potential of individuals.
It starts with learning to lead yourself. It is best done by questioning some core assumptions about yourself and the way things work. Allow the lessons learned to cascade through the organization.
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