While not easy to get right, large-scale organizational change often makes the difference between businesses that fail or thrive. Nothing stays the same — markets shift, customers are fickle, technology advances, competitors materialize, and resources become limited. Change management consulting experts know that the key to business longevity is to proactively lead and manage change before it manages you. Managing change successfully is all about leadership change mindsets.
One thing we have learned from three decades of change management simulation data is that when leaders invest the time and effort to change the mindset of their workforce, they are four times more likely to rate their change initiatives as successful than those who ignore the power of mindset.
Carol S. Dweck, the Stanford psychologist best known for her work on the power of mindset said, “In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I’m going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here’s a chance to grow.” This is the attitude you want to foster if you really want to achieve organizational change — the belief that growth is a process of continuous learning, and that the risks of missteps and the effort required are worth the drive toward higher performance.
Shifting from One Mindset to Another
It is not just a matter of presenting a compelling business case for change. You have to change the workplace culture that has long supported the existing mindset before you can inspire the desired one. Experience has shown that mindsets last even beyond the management practices that formed them. It is critical that you change not only the behavior but also the root causes of that behavior.
A retailer wanted their customer-facing sales force to focus on increasing revenue through cross selling and provided sales scripts to support the effort. But few sales reps actually changed their behavior. They were still operating on the mindset that their job was to give customers what they want.
The root cause of their continued behavior needed to be addressed and reframed. Business sales training helped to shift from a reactive, transactional, and order taking mindset to a more proactive and value-add mindset where they could anticipate and guide the customer to a better mutual outcome.
As powerful as reframing the mindset may be, any behavioral change can be thwarted by leaders and high performers who don’t consistently and frequently model the new ways. Leaders must make the mindset shift first to set the example. Then change leaders can work toward changing the incentives, processes, structures, and systems that provide the context for the desired behaviors and mindsets.
The Bottom Line
Do you spend the time to thoroughly think through the change mindsets required before you embark on your change journey? Know that to succeed, you, too, as a leader must change, and you must then be ready and willing to create the required context and mindset of your employees. Are you up to the challenge?
To learn more about the leadership change mindsets required for lasting change, download The 5 Change Perspectives that Leaders Must Get Right
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