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Helping individuals & organizations navigate & embrace change

I do a lot of coaching and I had someone ask me once “What is the single most important part of your job?” I had to really think about that for a moment. After a few seconds of reflection, I said it was helping individuals & the organization navigate & embrace change. Whether it is the craziness of COVID 19 and how it has disrupted all of our lives or if it is the dramatic organizational changes due to Digital Transformation, upskilling, a complete revamp of your Talent Mgt process, Industry 4.0, or the pace of change in your business and/or product strategy, everything is changing quickly and we have to move at the same pace (or faster) or we will be left behind.

In a 2018 Harvard Business Review article, Edith Onderick-Harvey shared 5 Behaviors of Leaders who Embrace Change.

They are:

1. Share a compelling, clear purpose. Edith says change agility requires an answer to the question “Why?”, so that people can fight the natural instinct to resist change.

2. Look ahead and see opportunity: Most leaders view this as the role of senior executives. To infuse change agility into your culture, mid- and front-line leaders — who are closest to the markets, customers, and daily operations — need to be encouraged and incented to see opportunities in what they do every day.

3. Seek out what’s not working: The old adage says that bad news doesn’t travel up. During the integration of an acquisition or even in the internal merger of business units, there will be bad news that the organization needs to learn from. But for real learning to occur, people need to feel psychologically safe to share the good, the bad, and the ugly.

4. Promote calculated risk-taking and experimentation: Robert Kennedy, paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw, said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” Too often, our traditional organizations’ first response to a risk is to ask, “Why?” Change agility requires leaders to ask “why not?” and to establish opportunities for pilots, prototypes, and experimentation.

5. Look for boundary-spanning partnerships: As work becomes more complex, it takes teams and cross-boundary collaborations to build products, attract customers, and achieve results. Change-agile leaders and organizations are replacing functional silos with formal and informal organizations that allow for the rapid flow of information and decision-making around a product, customer, or region.

Once of my favorite approaches to change management is outlined in the NeuroLeadership Institute’s (NLI) Guide to Culture Change. The guide notes that the biggest challenge organizations face when changing their culture is developing long-term behavior patterns.

The NLI approach focuses on two key factors:

1. Establishing an organizational growth mindset.

2. Using Priorities, Habits, and Systems as the strategic approach to behavior change.

Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck has researched the growth mindset and believes it has significant effects for those leaders who embrace the philosophy. Her findings illustrate that when management promotes a growth mindset among team members, they encourage learning, development and new ideas.

As noted in the NLI Guide, Growth mindset sets the stage for organizations to effectively implement culture change. Employees with a growth mindset see change as a necessary challenge, and are more equipped to adapt to a new culture because they operate by:

· Focusing on solutions instead of problems

· Staying open and determined instead of anxious and defensive

· Feeling motivated by negative emotions instead of derailed by them.

Once a company has established a growth mindset, NLI says it can begin adding the framework for lasting behavior change. They call it PHS: Priorities, Habits, Systems. Each element of PHS enhances culture change in the following ways:

· Priorities outline the desired changes

· New habits create change

· Systems help cement new habits.

Check out the NeuroLeadership Institute’s (NLI) Guide to Culture Change for more on this amazing change approach.

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