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Be the Change

Most of us are familiar with the adage ”Be the change you wish to see in the world” (a famous quote from Mahatma Ghandi). And as it turns out Ghandi’s encouragement should not be relegated to Facebook motivational moments – you know those moments when you skim through your news feed and feel the psychological uplift that comes from fleetinglingly reflecting on words of wisdom…

It turns out that after years of collaborating in efforts to advance the practice of leadership and cultural transformation, McKinsey & Company (global leaders in organisational change) have become more convinced than ever that organisational change is inseparable from individual change. Their research (see full article) can be summed up quite simply: Change efforts often falter because individuals overlook the need to make fundamental changes in themselves.

A large part of our work at Collective Possibilities is supporting leaders, teams and communities build a more nuanced understanding of themselves and how they operate with the express purpose of growth and change. We agree with McKinsey & Company when they say that building self-understanding and then translating it into an organisational context can be easier said than done, and getting started is often the hardest part.

Organisations don’t change – people do
Half of all efforts to transform organisational performance fail either because managers don’t act as role models for change or because people in the organisation defend the status quo.

If organisations identify and address pervasive mind-sets at the start, they are four times more likely to succeed in organisational-change efforts.

Look both inward and outward
Two common mistakes of looking outward alone

  1. Organisations direct their attention to the ‘technical’ aspects of a new solution, while failing to appreciate ‘the adaptive work’ people must do to implement it.
  2. There is too much focus on developing skills. Training that only emphasizes new behaviour rarely translates into profoundly different performance outside the training room.

The best way to achieve an organisation’s aspirations is to combine efforts that look outward with those that look inward. Linking strategic and systemic intervention to genuine self-discovery and self-development by leaders is a far better path to embracing the vision of the organisation and to realising its business goals.

What is looking inward?
Looking inward is a way to examine your own modes of operating to learn what makes you tick. Many people aren’t aware that the choices they make are extensions of the reality that operates in their hearts and minds. You can live your whole life without understanding the inner dynamics that drive what you do and say. Yet it’s crucial that those who seek to lead and be team members powerfully and effectively look at their internal experiences, precisely because they direct your actions. Taking accountability as an organisational member today includes understanding your motivations and other inner drives and how these show up as you work with others in your organisation.
There are two dimensions of looking inward that lead to self-understanding.

  1. Profile awareness – An individual’s profile is a combination of his or her habits of thought, emotions, hopes, and behaviour in various circumstances. Profile awareness is a recognition of these tendencies and the impact they have on yourself and others at work.
  2. State awareness – is the recognition of what’s driving you at the moment you take action. State awareness involves the real-time perception of a wide range of inner experiences and their impact on your behaviour. These include your current mind-set and beliefs, fears and hopes, desires and defences, and impulses to take action.

We believe that in the future, top teams and organisations will be made up of those that demonstrate both profile and state awareness. These capacities can develop into the ability to shift your inner state in real time. That leads to changing behaviour when you can still affect the outcome and not overreacting to events because they are reminiscent of something in the past or evocative of something that might occur in the future.

Contact us today to talk further about how we can partner with your organisation or team to develop both profile and state awareness at an individual and collective level.