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Leading Change - why you need an exploring mindset and trust

This is the third in a series of leading change. 

There is no dispute that we choose (usually unconsciously) how we respond to events. If something goes wrong - how do you respond – do you blame something or someone else or do you own up to your part in what didn’t work? Do you get angry or adopt a curiosity mindset to work out how this could be done differently to get a different result in the future.

When a leader is aware of their impact on change success or failure, and they focus on leading their teams effectively through the change – the likelihood of success is much higher.

Having a team with an exploring mindset[1] is about being curious, willing to explore and try new things and being open to change. A resisting mindset is fixed and unable think nimbly or flexibly and resists change. 

When trust[2] in a leader and the team is high there is a willingness and openness to try new things. Conversely when trust in a leader and the team is low there is a reluctance to try new things and experiment. 

Wonderful things happen when we have an exploring mindset and high trust: in our leader, our team, and ourselves and results become amplified.

Amplify Quadrant

Disrupting

When a person operates from a space of low trust and a resisting mindset it’s like driving and getting a red light at every set of traffic lights - you don’t get anywhere very fast. If your team don’t trust you or the leadership of the organisation and they are resistant to change then it is likely to fail. As the leader if you don’t trust the proposed change or don’t believe in it then you are unlikely to lead your team effectively through it. You won’t communicate well and the team just won’t get it.

Exploiting

When a person operates from a space of low trust and an exploring mindset it can be like they are revving the engine, releasing the clutch and mistakenly being in reverse. When trust in leadership is low, people will generally explore the changes proposed, pull the change apart to find out why it WON’T work – and exploit the weaknesses which can lead to the change failing. As the leader if you are operating from this quadrant you may only be aware of any negative impact on your team and so will focus on why the change won’t work rather than why it will (or how it can work).

Complying

When a person operates from a space of high trust and a resisting mindset it’s like being between a rock and a hard place - wanting to trust but resisting having to change. Trust in the leadership may be high, but some people are so reluctant to change or try new things that they go along with the change and do the bare minimum to make it a success. As the leader if you are operating in this space you may seem to be on board but really you are doing very little to bring your team on the journey.

Amplifying

When a person operates from a space of high trust and an exploring mindset it’s like having the right keys for the right locks. Everything opens up. When people are willing to explore a change – what’s working and what’s not working, figuring out even more benefits and features that hadn’t been noticed prior, the outcome of the change becomes amplified and unexpected benefits or ways of using this change can emerge. This is where we want you as the leader; believing in the change and the people implementing it, believing in your team to adopt the change and take it beyond what was expected. Trust in your team is high and trust within the team is high.

What do you need to do to move you and your team to the Amplify Quadrant and create a trusting environment and to develop the traits in you and your team that are open to exploring change?

I would love to hear your thoughts on what happens when you are required to lead your teams through change that you are the recipient of rather than the sponsor for.

This blog is the third in a series (read Part 1 here) and part of a larger white paper on ‘Leadership in Driving Change’. Feel free to email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." if you would like a copy.

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Maree Burgess works with Leaders, Leaders of Leaders, Experts and anyone else looking to increase their skills in leading change, sponsoring projects, build their confidence to step into more senior roles.

She is an author of “The XX Project: Giving women the skills and confidence to step up in corporate”. You can order your copy here.

[1]  Carol Dweck in her book: “Mindset”, uses the term growth or fixed mindset. Dweck explains why it's not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.

[2] Judith E. Glaser in her book “Conversational Intelligence” use the acronym ‘TRUST’ to described the components of building trust with others: Transparency; Relationships; Understanding; Shared Success; Testing Assumptions and Truth Telling.

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