The fish rots from the head down…

As Michael Jackson famously sang:

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways

Most company/organization leaders thrumble for a change: they want to see a cultural change at the organization, they want to see their employees being happy and jumping out from their skin out of excitement that they can work for them and they want to see satisfied customers and rising profits. They want these transformation being painless and within a significantly short period of time. Even though leaders agree that personal transformation is important for any successful change effort, they don’t want to see it within themselves.

It is crucial for leaders to understand that if they want to lead a successful organizational transformation, they must begin with their personal transformation. And that starts with identifying and re-writing those (mostly) subconscious narratives that might provoke contra-productive behavior.

The first steps are the hardest so here are two tips that can help any person to start their self-transformational journey.

  • Get to know what kind of situations, people and things trigger you: sometimes the way a person reacts to a current situation is rooted in past experiences. Breaking the cycle of triggers begins in deep self-reflection: be honest about those triggers and face them.
    Let’s say there is a leader who becomes impatient every single time he/she hears a question regarding the change that is yet to come. It might turn out that his/her impatience comes from interpreting the questions such as resistance to the vision and passive-aggressive doubt about his/her ability. This leader first must learn how to embrace questions and handle them at their right place.
  • Write out what is on your mind: it is not enough only to identify those things and situations that push the buttons but in order to be able to really face them write the narratives out. Seeing them in black and white provides a sobering acceptance of a deeper force that shapes behavior. This step requires courage, humility and the ability to detect patterns of behavior that leads to an answer to the question: “Why do I keep doing that?” Once you have found the answer to this question, then the real work can begin the re-writing of these narratives.

Those leaders are able to affect a change across an organization who are able to affect a change within themselves. Accepting the fact that a fish actually can smell from its head could fundamentally shift how one leads. The more leaders know themselves, how they will react in crucial situations the better equipped they will be to foster real change in themselves, others and the organization as well. In order to achieve this, they should accept feedback from others, track the impact of their behaviors on others and check whether their intentions match their actions.

The leaders of one of the biggest companies in Hungary have recognized that – in order to be able to keep up with the rapid technological and social changes – they must initiate a cultural change within the organization from the head down. One of the tools they use to foster this change is FLIGBY, that not just helps them in getting to know themselves, their leadership skills better but also gives examples how to create a flow promoting working environment where every employee has a chance to flourish in the role they fulfill.