“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” - Albert Einstein
There is no business or industry that is exempt from the need to change. Time marches on, human history unfolds, technology advances, new discoveries are made, consumer behavior shifts and the world around us suddenly seems so different.
In recent decades, it has been the rate of technological and, in particular, digital transformation that has been especially disruptive.
We are at a point now where the most successful and influential companies in the world are those driving the ongoing digital revolution — Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
The businesses and organizations that not only survive but thrive during this onslaught of rapid change will be those that figure out how to adapt and iterate while at the same time remaining true to their core values and identity.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of leaders to guide their organizations through constant change. And yet, beyond this responsibility, there is also an opportunity; an opportunity to not just lead through but also with change.
Leading through change means adjusting to shifts in the circumstances, environment or market in which a business operates to stay viable and competitive.
On the flip side, leading with change means using the process of change itself to drive the organization forward and create value for customers.
Leading with change moves an organization from being responsive to change to being the change agent; from willing passenger to willful driver.
In such a state, an organization is no longer fighting to remain viable and competitive, they are reshaping and redefining the very concept of success in their industry.
In order to lead with change and transform their business, a leader must cultivate the mindset of an entrepreneur and not just in themselves, but in the teams they lead as well.
But let’s face it, cultivating the right entrepreneurial mindset around change in any organization is almost as hard as the change itself.
So, here are five tips to get your organization mentally READY for change:
1. Relish and then release the past
There is value in looking in the rearview mirror every once in a while and recognizing and appreciating where we have come from.
The accomplishments of the past are the drivers of our success in the present. They should be celebrated and remembered, but not relived.
It is important to hold our past experiences loosely, allowing them to either linger like wise advice or pass into memory like the fashions of our teen years.
2. Engage imagination
Imagination is the soul of curiosity. Curiosity keeps the mind open and receptive to new ideas and new ways of looking at old problems, but it is imagination that spawns new ideas and perspectives.
Unfortunately, as people take on adulthood, we leave behind the imaginative thoughts and play of their youth.
To get teams to engage their imaginations, invite them to help envision the future and talk with them about the long-range plans of the company. Ask them open-ended questions about what they think it will look like when the company meets its goals.
3. Ask new questions from new people
There is great power in asking questions and in learning from others. Ask questions to people you haven't connected with before, like colleagues within the company, experts in the same field or people who have already been where we are going.
Some of the most powerful questions to ask are “what-if” questions:
- What if we offered that service at a steep discount to get people interested?
- What if we restructured our teams around different specialties?
- What if we doubled in size?
Leaders should create opportunities for their teams to engage in asking these sorts of questions with their peers, across departments and of other leaders.
4. Dare to fail
Courage is essential to any great endeavor, especially those that fail.
Not every change we undertake will succeed how you expect. The good news is that you often learn a great deal more from our mistakes than from our successes.
Nothing makes you so confident and foolish as success, and so humble and teachable as failure.
Leaders need to create an environment where people feel safe enough to push themselves to the brink of their capabilities. It is on those margins that individuals and organizations are tried and potential is realized.
5. Yearn for inspiration
To inspire others, seek first to be inspired.
Meaning is the key to unlocking inspiration in your work. At the most basic level, meaning is the realization that what you do matters.
Inspiration then is the realization that because what you do matters and is personal, it is worth giving your best and making your best better.
So, leaders should do their utmost to help their teams recognize how meaningful their work is. They should seek what energizes and uplifts them and their teams, keep learning and challenging previous thoughts, presuppositions and beliefs.
By diligently putting these concepts into practice, we can cultivate a mindset READY for change in our organizations. And we can successfully lead with change.
Make sure to check out our other leadership blogs, too!