Mindset is everything. I firmly believe it. Daily interactions with various businesses and their leaders constantly reaffirms this. As we stand in mid-2023, many business leaders feel at a loss as they are constantly being faced by an accelerated pace of change and many unknowns. This heightened level of uncertainty and unknowns pushes business leaders who do not have the right mindset to feel unsure on what is the right thing to do. I am faced with similar questions from various business leaders on how they should handle constantly evolving situations. My answer is always the same. First assess and change your mindset. Then we deal with the rest.
It is a well know fact, that we as human beings are not wired to easily deal with change. In essence, our relationship with uncertainty is based on fear and mistrust. We feel ill at ease not knowing and not feeling in control of our destiny and how we will succeed and thrive. That is why I firmly believe that before we speak about how to manage change (change management) we need to first handle how to accept change i.e. the change mindset.
Literature is full of models and frameworks of how to manage change. All these models and frameworks are there to essentially give people a sense that they are in control of the change being managed. This could be partially true. However, like the pandemic has surely shown us, there are changes that cannot fit within a framework.
However I want to be clear, not to be misunderstood. I am not saying that change management models and frameworks are rubbish and should be discarded. Nothing of the sort. What I am saying is that these models and frameworks rest on something more fundamental and important – how we feel about a given change or unknown and whether we have developed our mindset to deal effectively with uncertainty.
Let me dig deeper.
Our ability to manage change hinges on our ability to manage ourselves as business leaders – including our fears and anxieties. These factors drive everything else — in business and in life. The damaging effects of fear on decision-making are well documented. Yet this is typically omitted by traditional change management framework and models. Yet our mindsets and fears have a huge impact on key decisions taken within a business – which could lead to bad decisions that could compromise the business.
Let me try and put all this within a context.
Many business leaders talk to me about change-related challenge they face. Below are some examples
- How to build a positive work culture that improves employee performance, attitude and loyalty to their business, hence improving employee retention.
- How to deal with changing their business model or launching a new project.
- How to deal with an upcoming leadership succession.
My approach when faced with these challenges, I invite business leaders to look at the challenge from an external viewpoint, rather than jumping immediately into the nitty gritty details of the challenge at hand. I invite business leaders to assess their mindset as to how they are approaching this challenge. Are they approaching it with a mindset based on hope or fear? What is driving their mindset orientation to the challenge being faced? Does this mindset orientation differ from that of other trusted top managers or directors? I invite business leaders to reflect on this.
Many times, we tend to take shortcuts putting even more tension and stress upon us, because we do not give ourselves the time to reflect and think about what is fuelling our mindset and most of all to share things with others. My experience clear shows that when business leaders take time to reflect and share their thoughts they allow everyone around them to to learn more whilst strengthening team culture. Moreover decisions taken by business leaders tend to be greatly improved.
So the conclusion is the following. It is the Change mindset that drives change management, not the other way around. Such a mindset would help business leaders remove any blinders and learn to see what they have been missing with a restricted mindset based on fear. Such a mindset would be the catalyst to stop having business leaders trying to predict “the” future, but rather preparing for many different possible futures. One of the best ways to develop this skill is through a process called scenario planning. You can read about it by clicking HERE
One final note. A well balanced and open mindset is heavily reliant on a business leaders skills with regards leadership, communication and teamwork. In a recent report issued by the world economic forum, about the future of jobs, it was made abundantly clear that analytical thinking and creative thinking will likely be the most important skills for workers going forward. Beyond these two skills other important skills that present and future jobs will require are resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; curiosity and lifelong learning; dependability and attention to detail; technological literacy; empathy & active listening and leadership & social influence. This means that having the right mindset rests on the ability of business leaders to master the above skills. Which is why having business leaders and their teams trained in the above skills is so important. It will enable them to change and adapt their mindset and in turn to better handle change and uncertainty.
It is with all this in mind, that at EMCS we have developed a foundational practical training course in Leadership-Communication-Teamwork, which is then supplemented with training in the following areas:-
• Delegating effectively: Avoiding the plague of Micromanagement
• Time Management Skills
• Managing Conflict
• Negotiation & Influencing Skills
Feel free to contact me on email@example.com to discuss the above training and the funding available for such training.