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Monday, December 30, 2013

Culture: Post #7--Leading Change

How Leaders Manage Culture Change   When
leaders want to move change along, leaders have to create disequilibrium (unfreezing) that pushes people to change. Stages of learning/change (based on Kurt Lewin’s Change Management Model): 1. Unfreezing: Leaders motivate by providing discomforting data, connecting it to goals and ideals that produce anxiety, and creating a psychologically safe place to solve the problem as well as maintain integrity and identity. Basic principles of change: survival anxiety must be more powerful than learning anxiety, but it’s better to reduce learning anxiety rather than raise survival anxiety. 2. Cognitive Restructuring (Change-Transition): After unfreezing the organization, people have to change one of two ways: By imitating role models or by trial and error—Imitation or Experimentation.           3. Refreezing: New learning will stabilize and become the new norm only when people see results of the change efforts. However, if there’s no evidence that change is working, people revert back to old ways.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Culture: Post #6--Stages

Organizational Stages   Founding and early stage (led by founders, distinctive, clannish); Midlife (founders leave, outsiders come in, succession’s tough); Organizational Maturity and Potential Decline (success breeds entrenchment, unwillingness to change).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Culture: Post #5--Leadership & Culture

Leadership and Culture   Culture comes from founders and groups. Founders have a profound impact on culture. Even mature companies retain their founders’ beliefs and values. Founders offer up answers to early questions that calm anxiety and give the group a set of guidelines worthy of passing along to newbies. Groups must come to grips with group membership, goals of the group, group influencers, aggression and love, and adaptive norms that become part of the culture.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Culture: Post #4--Levels

Levels of Culture  There are three levels by which culture is visible to an observer to assist in understanding the culture: 1. Artifacts (visible structures, language, stories, climate); 2. Espoused Beliefs (ideas, goals values); and 3. Basic Assumptions (powerful unconscious beliefs and values, taken for granted, non-debatable). Sometimes these three are out of alignment and culture falters; e.g., employees may not be living the espoused values.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Culture: Post #3--Types of Culture

Types of Culture: Culture can be thought of as the foundation of the social order that we live in and of the rules by which we abide. There are cultural forces at work. Macro-cultures (national, occupational), Organizational cultures (corporate, social), Subcultures (groups inside an organization), and Micro-cultures (small teams) all present an external influence on culture. While organizational culture operates in a stealth mode, it has real power that affects everyone and becomes “the way we do things around here.”

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Culture: Post #2--Defining Culture

Defining Culture: According to Schein, “Culture is about learned group behaviors to solve problems in the external environment to ensure internal integration, stability, consistency and meaning—those things worthy of teaching to new team members as the ‘correct’ way to think and act toward solving similar problems.” Culture relates to a group the same way as personality does to a person. Just as personal norms dictate our behavior, group norms (culture) dictate how groups behave.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Culture: Post #1--Introduction

 Introduction: Culture change is all about a threat-reward stimulus, learning, and adapting to survive. If learning new ways (change) creates more anxiety than problems it solves, people will balk. Culture boils down to Artifacts, Espoused Beliefs, and Basic Assumptions. Leaders make or break change in organizations. Thus, leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin. Schein helps understand how both sides can complement each other.
Organizational Culture and Leadership (Jossey-Bass, 2010, fourth edition), by Edgar Schein, reviewed by Steve Gladis,

Friday, December 6, 2013

Focus: Post #8--Teams

Teams   The best teams surface disagreements, talk about them, and don’t let them simmer and boil over. Create time and space to reflect on things that bother people and allow them to bring up negative issues and feelings. To get the wisdom of the group, it has to be a safe place to share. Team Triple Focus: Individual — Self-awareness (“raising the elephant”); Other— understanding others on the team AND other groups the team deals with; Outer —what’s going on in the organization and the business environment.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Focus: Post #7--Cognitive Control

Cognitive Control
The bottom brain can overload the top brain—anxious fears can bubble up and overwhelm this part of the brain. And, a top brain darting from one thing to another can quickly overwhelm itself. Mindfulness or “cognitive control” can help us calm down the inner monkey-mind. Meditation is particularly effective at tamping down the wandering mind. In schools, a technique called “breathing buddies” is often used to calm down children. Teachers ask them to lie down, put a stuffed animal on their abdomens, and breathe in and out, watching the animal rise and fall. Also, they use “Stop Light”: When you feel overwhelmed, think Red Light—STOP; then, Yellow Light—What are my options? Then Green Light—Pick my best option and move forward. Such exercises can move prefrontal focus from negative (right) side to positive (left) side of the brain.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Focus: Post #6--Leaders

Leaders and Focus  People follow the leader’s focus. In effect, leaders spread emotional contagion—both good and bad. Leaders need to take care that their emotions don’t run the show. Moreover, strategy is an example of organizational attention and focus—best leaders are system thinkers. They can focus on their own self-awareness, others and the outer world in a kind of blended balanced way. Being too focused on a financial goal can make a leader appear less caring.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Focus: Post #5--Top and Bottom Brains

Two Brains  The bottom brain is the rudimentary ancient brain in our basal ganglia. It’s reflexive, fast, impulsive, and stores habitual activities, like driving or walking. It sends impulses to the top brain. The top brain resides in the neocortex . It’s slower, able to learn, the seat of self-control and regulation, and takes more effort and energy to power up. It often sends controlling signals to calm down the bottom brain. But both work in concert communicating back and forth in a kind of dance of thought and behavior. Key idea—strong focus on one tends to dampen the other. Thus, meditating on our breath can calm down an overactive, anxious top brain. Also, a bottom-up warning can protect us from being blindsided by a threat.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Focus: Post #4--Modes of Attention

Modes of Attention Psychologist and researcher Mihaly Czismetmihaly has studied attention for year. He’s concluded that when we are minimally challenged and under minimal stress, most of us are bored. However, when we’re overstimulated, overstretched and over-matched for our capacity, we’re overwhelmed—what he calls “frazzled.” Finally, our performance is highest, and we’re most focused and engaged, when our capabilities are stretched but matched to the level of difficulty faced at work, which he calls “flow.” And flow is marked by your attention being absorbed, time flying by, feeling like you’re challenged but a good match for the challenge and doing what you enjoy. Unfortunately only 20% of people have flow in a day.

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